Dorset Information Sharing Charter
The Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing (the Centre) worked with partners in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset (Dorset) to help to support the implementation of Dorset’s Information Sharing Charter (DISC).

The people living in the Dorset area, (defined as the places within the Borough of Poole, Bournemouth Borough Council and the County of Dorset) access health and social care services via 13 primary healthcare localities which in turn mainly access four NHS hospital trusts and a number of smaller community hospitals. Residents access health and social care through the six district councils that make up the County of Dorset, as well as the three first-tier councils.

The Dorset-area Partnership is committed to transforming health and social care services across the Dorset area, to enable and deliver a sustainable improvement in health and care outcomes through person-centred, outcome-focused, preventative, co-ordinated care. This vision will be delivered through the Partnership’s Better Together Programme

Our role
Through intensive engagement with Dorset Better Together partners, we helped to uncover the potential challenges and barriers to information sharing across services working to transform Dorset’s health and social care services. By delivering bespoke workshops and presentations, we shared what we learnt through similar work in other places and policy areas, to help Dorset Better Together partners overcome its information sharing challenges.

Finally we captured and disseminated evidence of Dorset’s information sharing journey, helped the place to involve new partners in its plans to integrate health and social care services, and informed national conversations about its vision of transformed local public services.

Previous service and funding arrangements across Dorset were fragmented and services operated in silos, with budget and commissioning arrangements that weren’t aligned.  Providers across Dorset recognised that without change the increasing demands placed on the health and social care services by an increasing ageing population would make services unsustainable in the longer term. Information sharing wasn’t recognised as an integral element to successful partnership collaboration.

Through our engagement work with Dorset, leaders and partners identified a number of information sharing challenges, including:

  • Sharing information between voluntary organisations particularly as involvement from the voluntary sector increases.
  • Sharing information as part of a risk management framework e.g. in situations of violence.
  • Concerns about resourcing, capacity, roles and responsibilities and culture related to new ways of working and information sharing.
  • Terminology – different understanding of common principles and language.
  • A general lack of understanding across partners about the information governance rules.
  • Questions about who owns relevant and useful data.

Dorset recognised that organisations involved in providing any service to the public had a legal responsibility to ensure that their use of personal information is lawful, properly controlled and that an individual’s rights are respected.  Managing the balance between sharing information in order to provide quality services and support integration across health and social care whilst protecting the privacy of the individual and complying with confidentiality requirements was a key consideration for Better Together partners. 

Dorset Information Sharing Charter
As part of their move towards collaboration and improved information sharing across services in Dorset, a new Information Governance group was formed to improve and integrate information sharing across health and social care services within Dorset.  As a result of this initial work, Dorset designed an Information Sharing Charter (DISC) to help partners improve their information sharing arrangements.

This charter aimed to provide Dorset health and social care agencies with a robust framework for the lawful, secure and confidential sharing of personal information between themselves and other public, private or voluntary sector organisations that they work, or wish to work in partnership with.

The Information Governance workstream members are promoting the DISC on a dedicated website and through a high-profile launch event, titled ‘Dare to Share’, which took place in January 2016. The launch event was an opportunity for partners of the existing OAISP to sign up to the new DISC, and be able to recognise the Charter’s branding. 

As part of the package of support to the Dorset area, the Centre facilitated a workshop in order to engage representatives of the Better Together Programme Board and stakeholders from across the health and social care landscape, including directors and executives from the local Clinical Commissioning Group, Adult Social Care, local authorities, education, community and acute hospitals. This developed thinking about the practical aspects and implementation of the DISC, and improvements for joined-up working overall, using the DISC as a catalyst to start the conversation about information sharing.

The Centre also supported the launch of the DISC at the event in January 2016, and helped Better Together partner agencies roll the DISC out to signatory organisations thereafter. We were invited to talk to delegates about the cultural barriers they will need to overcome to implement the DISC successfully in their own organisation. The Centre supported these messages by sharing relevant learning from our case studies on integrated digital health and care records at a marketplace stand, and running workshops to help partners articulate the challenges they face locally.