The Department for Work and Pensions’ digital unit has helped identify unpaid carers through its first bulk data transfer to NHS England, allowing more than half a million people to get earlier vaccinations.
The NHS in England invited unpaid carers of elderly or disabled people aged 18-64 to book vaccinations from late February, at the same time as those aged 16-64 with health conditions that put them at higher risk if they caught Covid-19. Following a test exchange, on 17 February DWP Digital provided the health service with data on around 789,000 recipients of carer’s allowance, followed by data on 127,000 people receiving other caring-related benefits on 2 March. NHS England used the information to identify around 540,000 people who had not already been offered vaccinations.
In a blog, DWP Digital statistician Nicky Tarry said that the work to identify unpaid carers was complex, as some of the group receive carer’s allowance but others receive a carers element of universal credit. “As a department we wanted to ensure that we identified everyone that could be classed as an unpaid carer,” Tarry wrote. “We needed to do significant discovery work to ensure which data items were required.”
DWP carried out security checks on how the data would be transferred and how NHS England would use it before going ahead, setting up a data sharing agreement in the process.
“It was a really proud moment for the Data as a Service team here at DWP to play a part in getting these people priority access to the vaccination, so they can continue to provide this valuable service,” Tarry wrote, adding that the same process could be used for future requests such as to identify homeless people.
This article was first published on CSW's sister site PublicTechnology