Data Protection and Corona Virus

We all share the same concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The need for public bodies and health practitioners to be able to communicate directly with people when dealing with this type of health emergency has never been greater.

Data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop Government, the NHS or any other health professionals from sending public health messages to people, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing. Nor does it stop them using the latest technology to facilitate safe and speedy consultations and diagnoses. Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.

The ICO is a reasonable and pragmatic regulator, one that does not operate in isolation from matters of serious public concern. Regarding compliance with data protection, we will take into account the compelling public interest in the current health emergency.

The safety and security of the public remains our primary concern. The ICO and our colleagues in the public sector have this at the forefront of our minds at this time. We are here to help our colleagues on the frontline. We can offer advice to make sure the law around data protection and direct marketing is clear. Information is available on our website or you can call our helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Message from the Care Inspectorate

COVID-19 update

I would like to provide an update on how the Care Inspectorate is responding through our contingency planning to the COVID-19 situation.

Iā€™d also like to thank all providers, our social care workforce, and public servants for the work you are doing to protect vulnerable people. The coming weeks and months are going to test us all and I want you to know we are fully committed to supporting all those who provide health and social care services, in order to keep people safe, during this global health emergency. In the Care Inspectorate we have a varied and experienced group of staff and we will be considering how they can help, advise and guide services directly in coming days and weeks.

Over the past week we have taken the decision to scale down our inspections during this time and put in place arrangements which will involve gathering information, assessing the level of risk in care services and establishing assurances about the quality of care people experience. We are only making visits to services when absolutely necessary. We are also operating in a similar manner around complaints.

We intend to be flexible around our registration practice where we may have to register different facilities as time goes on. We will prioritise our registration work to support the national response and the sustainability of services.

At this extremely challenging time, we will support services in their need to apply flexibility and judgement around staffing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing care. We recognise that services will need to be creative and make use of a wider range of resources, including potentially staff from other public services and volunteers.

Over recent days, we have issued guidance for all registered care services including early learning and childcare services informing them of the changes we have introduced. I would encourage you to work with your staff to consider what this means in your specific setting and the potential impact it will have on your work.

Guidance and information

We have created a coronavirus COVID-19 page on our website, which we are updating continuously. Currently, it includes information on notifications, staffing levels and registration.

We are also providing regular updates on Twitter, Facebook and in our Provider Updates newsletter, which we are currently sending to all registered care services along with subscribers. I encourage you to follow us on social media and to subscribe to our free e-newsletters service, ensuring you tick the Provider Updates preference when you do so here: http://bit.ly/CI-subscribe

Getting in touch

If you have any concerns, or need any additional guidance, I would ask you to get in touch with your Care Inspectorate contact, who will be able to help you in the usual way. In line with wider public health developments, we will continue to provide updates on our activities at www.careinspectorate.com, our social media channels, and through our customer contact centre, on 0345 600 952.

We will review our activity in the weeks ahead and we will continue to support you and people who experience care.

Yours faithfully

Peter Macleod

Chief Executive