Dr Nicola Byrne appointed as the new National Data Guardian for health

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Dr Nicola Byrne has been appointed the new National Data Guardian (NDG) for Health and Social Care for the next three years.

Dr Byrne is the second person to take up the role following Dame Fiona Caldicott, who passed away in February 2021.

The National Data Guardian’s role is to help ensure 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.

Dr Byrne was selected through an open public appointment process, which commenced in August 2020, to appoint a successor to Dame Fiona. The appointment has also been reviewed and approved by the Health and Social Care Committee.

With a background in psychiatry, Dr Byrne has 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 (CCIO), 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.”

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