The IG Toolkit encompasses 13 requirements for general practice to self-assess against.
HSCIC state that completion of these self-assessments is necessary in order for practices to ensure that their services continue to be provided. This is because every practice receiving these services needs to sign up annually to an IG Statement of Assurance, and the only way this can be signed/submitted is through the IG Toolkit online assessment.
As such, while completion of the IG Toolkit is not a contractual requirement, GPs cannot decline to do it if asked- it is de facto compulsory as practices rely on N3 connections, including for internet connection, path links with the acute trust, NHS mail, QMAS, GP2GP etc.
For more information go to: HSCIC - IG SoC for General Practices
Completion of the IG Toolkit self-assessments can be achieved relatively quickly, provided that the underlying work on IG has been undertaken.
One person from the practice will have been nominated as the IT lead; they will register for a user account and complete the online self-assessments on behalf of the practice. For general practice, completing the self-assessments involves:
- Answering each of the 13 IG Toolkit requirements (which involves putting a score between 0 and 3 depending on how well the practice thinks it is meeting each of the criteria)
- Selecting the “Publish” button.
- Finally, reading and accepting the “IG Assurance Statement”.
The practice is given an overall score, and if it is deemed not to be meeting particular criteria, then NHS England will discuss this with the practice and make a plan for improvement to ensure that this is met the following year.
PLEASE NOTE, the requirement which has caused the most confusion is requirement 117 which states that “All staff members are provided with appropriate training on information governance requirements”.
The key word here is 'appropriate' and the requirement itself does not state that all GP staff must complete the IG training tool modules; totalling 11 hours.
However, the HSCIC has confirmed that the IG training tool modules are only mandatory for PCO staff; not for GPs and GP staff. Practices may, of course, choose to use these modules in order to meet requirement 117 of the IG Toolkit, but they do not have to, and can choose to provide 'appropriate training' through other means.