The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The NHS is about to arrive at a crossroads when it comes to data sharing.

Prior to the pandemic, the health service was taking an extremely risk-averse approach to sharing patient data within its own ranks.

The pandemic has – however – presented an opportunity for chiefs to allow the NHS greater freedom to share what it needs in order to provide safe and effective care.

Indeed, during the last year, clearer guidance has been issued to help staff understand what patient information should and should not be passed to others.

That clear guidance and newfound confidence must be retained after the pandemic, according to the new National Data Guardian Nicola Byrne.

Dr Byrne, who succeeds the widely respected Dame Fiona Caldicott in the post, told HSJ the pandemic had allowed the NHS to “share things it should already have been sharing”.

Her priorities for the year ahead include maintaining the breakthroughs during the pandemic, emphasising the importance of patient engagement to the emerging integrated care systems and a new focus on data quality.

Click here for the full interview with Dr Byrne.

The Times They Are-Not-a-Changin’

The government has quietly shelved plans to introduce a 24-hour vaccination service, according to a Parliamentary question answered by vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Only in January, HSJ revealed that two trusts in the Midlands would be piloting such a service, but it now appears there are no plans to extend this to other trusts.

Perhaps there is a feeling that with 40 million people in England already vaccinated at least once, there is simply not the need?

The only question remains – could a 24 hour service help vaccinate the remaining staff members who are hesitant? Particularly if they mainly work night shifts, as many agency staff do? Perhaps this has yet to be given serious thought by the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.