Dr Nicola Byrne to be the National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has appointed the next National Data Guardian

Dr Nicola Byrne, National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care
Dr Nicola Byrne, National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care

Dr Byrne becomes the second person to take up the role of National Data Guardian (NDG), following Dame Fiona Caldicott, who sadly died last month just a matter of weeks before she was due to retire.

The National Data Guardian’s role is to help ensure that the public can trust that health and care information is securely safeguarded and used appropriately. The position was first established in November 2014 and legislation was passed in December 2018 to place the role on a statutory footing. Dame Fiona held the role from November 2014 until her death in February 2021; she was named the first statutory postholder on April 1 2019.

Dr Byrne was selected through an open public appointment process, which commenced in August 2020, to appoint a successor to Dame Fiona. The Health and Social Care Committee has also scrutinised and endorsed the appointment, being satisfied that Dr Byrne has the professional competence, personal independence and skills required. She has been appointed for three years, in line with the standard term set out in the Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Act..

Dr Byrne has a background in psychiatry, with more than 20 years of practical clinical experience. She intends to continue in her post as a consultant psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, seeing patients on a part-time basis. She has also held roles as the trust’s Caldicott Guardian and Chief Clinical Information Officer, but will leave these positions on her appointment as NDG.

Dr Byrne said: “I am delighted to take on this important role and determined to work to ensure that citizens’ health and care data is used to ensure the safety and quality of individual care, to improve the health of the population, and to support the longer term effectiveness of our health and care system through research and innovation in treatment and models of care.

“In doing so, I will do my best to honour Dame Fiona’s legacy, seeking always to speak up on behalf of citizens for trustworthy use of data, as she did with such integrity over the many years of her work.”

National Data Guardian