Spotlight on: Berenice Lopez, Caldicott Guardian

Berenice Lopez, Consultant Chemical Pathologist and Associate Medical Director for Quality and Safety, has recently been appointed as the Trust’s new Caldicott Guardian. Berenice is responsible for protecting patients’ confidentiality and making sure information about their health and care is used appropriately.

“I act as ‘the conscience of our organisation’ and my advice must always remain impartial and independent,” said Berenice.

“All NHS organisations and local authorities must have a Caldicott Guardian, as they play a key role in ensuring that we meet the highest ethical and legal standards for handling patient identifiable information.

“My focus is information relating to our patients and their care, but the need for confidentiality extends to others, including relatives, carers, and our colleagues at the hospital. Caldicott principles may also apply to the deceased.

“I receive requests for information all the time and my duty is to make a balanced and informed decision, to establish what can and can’t be shared externally.

“Requests for information by third parties, for example national research programmes, must be carefully considered.”

“This role requires the ability to apply the Caldicott principles wisely, the courage to challenge, where necessary, and always be compassionate. It’s important to keep in mind that my decisions will affect patients and families, many of whom I will never meet,” added Berenice.

The role of the Caldicot Guardian is also key in relation to the implementation of digital and paperless systems, such as our 3-Acute Hospitals Electronic Patient Record (EPR).

“Paper records represent more of a risk in terms of potential leaks of information and EPR will allow us to have more control, with secure log-ins and electronic audit trails.

“However, digital systems can be vulnerable to unauthorised uses as well as accessed by those who are not legally allowed permission. Everything is becoming more digitised as IT systems are rolled out to improve efficiency and co-ordination of care but the duty of confidentiality remains and we must ensure GDPR laws are applied also to digital information.”

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