The government body charged with safeguarding patient information has ordered a significant number of trusts to “promptly” delete a series of datafields, which it claims could put patients at risk of being identified.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre told the trusts in a letter this week that some of the information in “secondary uses service” that they had submitted to the agency had been entered in an incorrect way.

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The Information Commissioner’s Office has said there is a “low impact” on patient confidentiality

HSJ understands that some of the trusts have been submitting data that failed to conform to national NHS data standards for the last 10 years.

The information centre has also written to an undisclosed number of “extraction” customers, organisations that have agreements to receive datasets from the body, asking them to contact the HSCIC to support them to delete any affected data

The issue has been referred to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which has said there is a “low impact” on patient confidentiality.

It is understood that the problem will take several months to rectify.

The information centre has formally requested that the affected trusts provide them with the contact details for a named individual from the organisation who is responsible for ensuring the deletion takes place as requested.