NHS Digital has issued guidance that has confirmed the public cloud is safe to store patient data in.

It said that “NHS and social care organisations can safely locate health and care data, including confidential patient information, in the public cloud including solutions that make use of data off-shoring".

This could have implications for businesses that have been unconvinced about the security of the cloud until now.

The organisation said the guidance sets out clear expectations for health and care bodies that want to use cloud services or data offshoring to store patient information. According to NHS Digital, it will ensure that organisations know how to use these solutions safely and securely.

This will be especially relevant due to the fact tighter restrictions on the processing and transfer of personal data are going to be introduced through the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May.

NHS Digital’s guidance also highlights the benefits for organisations choosing to use cloud facilities, including cost savings resulting from not having to buy and maintain hardware and software, as well as comprehensive back-up and fast recovery of systems.

It gives a more detailed explanation to help organisations comply with expected standards when choosing to adopt these technologies. It sets out the legalities and best practice as to how data should be stored and used.

Rob Shaw, deputy chief executive at NHS Digital, said: “It is for individual organisations to decide if they wish to use cloud and data offshoring but there are a huge range of benefits in doing so, such as greater data security protection and reduced running costs when implemented effectively.”

He went on to say that the new guidance “will give greater clarity about how these technologies can be used and how data, including confidential patient information, can be securely managed”.

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