Search Legislation

Health and Social Care Act 2008

National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care

74.Information governance refers to the structures, policies and practices which are used to ensure the confidentiality and security of records relating to the delivery of services. It aims to ensure the ethical and appropriate use of them for the benefit of individuals and the public good.

75.A review of information governance carried out in 2005 by Harry Cayton, then National Director for Patients and the Public at the Department of Health, identified nine different bodies or groups developing, contributing to or interpreting information governance with no single coordinating body. The bodies identified included the Patient Information Advisory Group (‘PIAG’), which is a statutory body reporting to the Secretary of State. Whilst it has some responsibility for advising the Secretary of State on general information governance matters, its major role is to advise on and administer the statutory arrangements which allow the Secretary of State to lift the common law duty of confidentiality in specific circumstances. These arrangements enable identifiable patient information to be disclosed and used for essential NHS activity and medical research without patient consent where the activity is sufficiently in the public interest.

76.The majority of the bodies identified have now been closed, merged or do not have a national role in information governance, and an interim National Information Governance Board has been put in place. However, PIAG remains as the statutory body.

77.To complete the transition to a clear, authoritative and accountable structure with a single board dealing with all information governance matters for both health and social care a statutory National Information Governance Board will replace PIAG as the statutory body. Its remit and statutory powers will be broader than those of PIAG and its membership will reflect this. The functions of PIAG will be transferred to the statutory National Information Governance Board.

78.Section 157 establishes the National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care (‘the National Information Governance Board’).

79.Currently there is a lack of clarity for individual organisations seeking advice on information governance matters and this could lead to different interpretations of legislation and policy. A single body is needed that is structured to meet current and future needs, and which also has the necessary statutory powers to oversee information governance arrangements, in order to support the NHS and social care staff by providing a national source of guidance and advice. The National Information Governance Board will aim to provide service users and the public with confidence that appropriate measures are in place to protect information. It will work to facilitate the appropriate sharing of information in order to support the delivery of seamless care.

80.The increasing use of information technology to support the delivery of care, and the existence of some public concerns about this, also serves to emphasise the need for national clarity about information governance and openness in its application. The Act defines the role and constitution of the Board to support the pursuit of these objectives.

81.Establishing the National Information Governance Board will not remove local responsibility for information governance. This will continue to be exercised by the heads of local NHS and/or social care organisations.

82.The Secretary of State will make provision by regulations on several matters relating to the Board, including the appointment of the Chair and other members of the Board. However, the intention is that the Chair will be appointed by the Secretary of State and that the membership will be either lay members, appointed by an independent appointments body (for example the Appointments Commission), or representative members nominated by stakeholder organisations to represent them on the Board. It is also intended that the number of lay members will exceed the number of representative members.

83.The National Information Governance Board will have responsibility for the NHS Care Record Guarantee for England. This sets out the rules that will govern information held in the NHS Care Records Service, which is being implemented as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. An equivalent guarantee is being developed for social care.

84.Once established as a statutory body the National Information Governance Board will take over the responsibilities of the current statutory body, PIAG, which will then be abolished.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources