"Best interests" is a term that has been used in IG circles for some time and not just specifically in relation to capacity issues with service users of mental healthcare. When working at various MHTs and Social Services departments I have been involved with senior clinicians/social workers in decisions to provide data subject access requests based upon acting in the best interests of the patient/service user. There is currently ongoing work with major stakeholders in developing guidance and other materials. The NHS Constitutionand Care Record Guarantee are also concerned with putting the patient first andacting in their best interests.
The DataProtection Act's 1st Principle also needs to be considered when contemplating “best interests”, this requires personal data is processed fairlyand lawfully. The requirement is that sufficient information must be given todata subjects to enable processing in respect of the data subject to be fair. The element of being lawful can be interpreted in line with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The Information Governance Alliance (IGA) is a group of national health and care organisations that are working together toprovide a joined up and consistent approach to information governance. The coremembers of the IGA are the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The IGA aims toimprove information governance in health and care by:
The IGA has identified a set of key health andcare information governance documents onconfidentiality, security and records management
Within the Caldicott 2 report there are several references to "best interests" relating to data sharing and forms part of the new 7th Caldicott principle.
The duty to share information can be as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality.
Health and social care professionals should have the confidence to share information in the best interests of their patients within the framework set out by these principles. They should be supported by the policies of their employers,regulators and professional bodies.
Both the Care Record Guarantee and the NHS Constitution support the concept of "best interests":
The Care Record Guarantee 4 commitment;
NHS Constitution page 8 - treatment provided must be in the best interests.
Also see Page 5:
Working together for patients.
Patientscome first in everything we do. We fully involve patients, staff, families,carers, communities, and professionals inside and outside the NHS. We put theneeds of patients and communities before organisational boundaries. We speak up when things go wrong.