PERFORMANCE: Around two thirds of NHS trusts will miss a Department of Health target monitoring their safeguarding of personal and patient information, HSJ has been told.

The DH expects most trusts to fall short under its information governance toolkit scheme, which evaluates compliance with 41 information governance standards.

These range from training staff on information governance to ensuring patients’ details are properly pseudonymised, which allows people to be identified if they need to be contacted.

The DH changed the scoring method for 2010-11, requiring trusts to achieve a “green” rating for each assessment area, whereas before they were given an overall percentage grade.

Trusts submitted the data to the DH at the end of 2010-11 and the department is due to release the results imminently.

A DH spokeswoman described the target as “challenging” and said early indications showed around a third of trusts will have fully achieved it. A further third are on course to meet a lower standard focusing on 22 “key security requirements”.

The spokeswoman warned that failure to meet the overall standard put trusts potentially “in breach of national contract terms until compliance is achieved”.

NHS Confederation senior policy manager Frances Blunden said there was a general feeling of “frustration” at the toolkit among NHS trusts. Many see it as “onerous and bureaucratic”.

But she added there was a need to improve information governance, as security breaches were “very damaging for the NHS’s reputation, and for patients’ and the public’s faith” in it.

A report discussed at an NHS Milton Keynes board meeting in March said concerns had been raised nationally about the toolkit. It emphasised the “competing priorities” stretching the primary care trust’s information governance team at a time of reduced capacity.

Meanwhile NHS Hampshire reported “red” ratings in 10 out of 41 assessment areas. A table comparing its performance with other trusts in the South Central region showed none was totally compliant as of 14 March.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation Trust is also predicting a “red” rating.