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Free data check could be just what you need before the CQC inspector comes

The BMA has just released news the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) is offering free, one-day advisory visits to make sure practices are complying with the Data Protection Act.  With the assurance if any problems are identified advice rather than sanctions will be given.

All practices will now be CQC-registered and with the possibility of a CQC visit any time in the future this sounds like a good opportunity to have a free health check on your data security. After all, the CQC inspector may not be as lenient.

This is especially important as compliance with the Data Protection Act forms a core part of one of the CQC Essential Standards on patient records.

According to the ICO web site a visit normally takes a whole day and they look at three main areas: security, records management and requests for personal data.

How these visits will be organised and over what time scale has yet to be made public, but with more than 10,000 GP practices in the UK my only hope is the ICO has adequate resources to cope - if they assess five practices a week this amount of work equates to just under 40 years of work...

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.