Drug Deaths Taskforce response: cross government approach

Cross government response to the Drug Deaths Taskforce report, Changing Lives. It contains a cross government action plan, response to Taskforce recommendations and a stigma action plan.

14. Data sharing

Taskforce Recommendation: The Scottish Government should ensure that data-sharing is no longer a barrier to the delivery of services. Guidance and/or an open letter should be developed with the Information Commissioner's Office on information-sharing, linking records and ensuring that all partners have standard operating procedures and information-sharing agreements in place.

The Scottish Government is committed to improving the sharing of data across the health and care sector. We are developing Scotland's first ever Data Strategy for health and social care, which we will publish in early 2023. The ambition of the Strategy is to ensure that the right professionals have access to relevant data at the right time. The Strategy will also seek to improve the ways in which data is collected, stored and used, working to the principle of collecting data once and reusing for multiple purposes. This will prevent individuals having to retell their story particularly when this could be traumatising to them.

More broadly, while there are emerging examples of good practice on data sharing such as data sharing between the Scottish Ambulance Service and treatment services following a near-fatal overdose, we recognise that there remain difficulties in data sharing between organisations, particularly between the public and third sectors.

The need for improved data sharing has been identified as key for the improvement of near-fatal overdose follow-up pathways. Through the Directors of Public Health National Drug Deaths Incident Management Team (NDDIMT), the need for improved data sharing is being taken forward as matter of priority in relation to MAT Standard 3 – that all people at high risk of drug related harm are proactively identified and offered support to access treatment or care and support.

The Minister for Drugs Policy is actively pursuing options for clarifying the position on information-sharing and discussions are ongoing with the Data Protection Officer around potential action they can take to assist with the sharing of essential information.

Longer term, the Scottish Government is developing a new single patient record as part of preparations for establishing the National Care Service. This new record will follow the patient through their journey and improve data linkage and allow for better understanding of an individual's needs and whole care package.


Email: Drugsmissiondeliveryteam@gov.scot

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