As a long term resident in Leicester, although few people would describe me as a football fan, I was surprised to hear that a mini earthquake with a magnitude of 0.3 was recorded in Leicester and attributed to a “sudden energy release” made by Leicester City fans when a last-minute winning goal was scored against Norwich last month.
This shows how a seismic change can happen when we all pull together and act as one. This reminded me of our work on the Troubled Families Health Information Sharing Project, where we are all pulling together to achieve the same goal of improving outcomes for families and children.
You may have read my colleague Imogen’s blog last month which introduced this project, and I’m now keen to share with you a little more of the detail.
Information sharing is essential to the delivery of the Troubled Families Programme. It brings eligible families with complex, multiple problems into the programme, and helps to ensure they receive coordinated support across local services. Local authorities depend on local public services providing access to their data and intelligence on families and family members. Without this, there is a risk that families with the highest need will not be identified and do not receive the support they need.
We know there are significant obstacles to sharing information between local authorities and their health partners. Confidentiality is crucial but cultural barriers can prevent partners sharing information about families, and questions about how legal it is to access health information can also stifle progress.
There are also concerns around whether health information can be shared without consent and whether sharing this information can be justified on the basis that it would directly benefit families.
We will be working with three local places to find out how they are sharing health data to help identify and support families with complex, multiple problems in their area. Each of the places has been developing new arrangements to share a range of health data and they are using this to improve the support they provide to local families.
Along with experts from the Department of Health, we will focus on identifying cultural barriers and enablers to information sharing and capturing best practice in order to help and support other local places to overcome similar barriers they may face.
We have already had some initial discussions with the places we are working with, and they are sharing with us the good practice going on locally, and the barriers they have experienced in sharing health information.
Whilst it’s still early days in the project, I’m confident that by working together and sharing good practice, local places will be supported in their goal of helping families with complex needs. And, as for the football fans, I’d like to thank them for showing us what can be achieved when we all move in the same direction.