Caldicott Principles : How To Protect Patient Confidentiality

As a healthcare professional, it is essential that you are aware of the Caldicott Principles and how to apply them in order to protect patient confidentiality. The Caldicott Principles were developed in the UK in 1997 and set out seven key principles for handling patient information. These principles are still relevant today and can help you ensure that you are protecting your patients’ confidential information. So, what exactly are the Caldicott Principles? Read on to find out!

What is Caldicott Principles?

The Caldicott Principles are a set of six principles that guide how NHS organisations collect, use and share patient information. The principles were first set out in a report by Dame Fiona Caldicott, and were updated in 2013. 

The Caldicott Principles state that patient information should only be used for the purpose for which it was collected, and that organisations should only collect the minimum amount of information necessary. Information should be shared in a way that is secure and confidential, and individuals should be given the opportunity to consent to their information being shared. 

Organisations should have clear policies and processes in place to ensure that patient information is used appropriately, and that staff are trained in how to comply with the principles. The principles are designed to strike a balance between protecting patient confidentiality and ensuring that information is used effectively to deliver care.

What are the The six principles of Caldicott

The six principles are: i) need to know; ii) consent; iii) confidentiality; iv) security; v) accuracy; and vi) transparency. 1 

i) Need to Know: Patient information should only be used and shared by those who have a legitimate need for it. This principle ensures that patient information is only accessed and used by those who have a legitimate reason to do so. 

ii) Consent: Patients should give their explicit consent before their information is used or shared. This principle ensures that patients have control over how their information is used and that they are aware of how it will be used. 

iii) Confidentiality: Patient information should be treated as confidential and should only be disclosed to those who have a legitimate need to know it. This principle ensures that patient information is not shared unnecessarily and that appropriate measures are taken to protect it from unauthorized disclosure. 

iv) Security: Patient information should be stored securely and accessed only by authorized individuals. This principle ensures that patient information is protected from unauthorized access and misuse. 

v) Accuracy: Patient information should be accurate, up-to-date, and complete. This principle ensures that patients receive the best possible care by ensuring that the information used to make decisions about their care is accurate. 

vi) Transparency: Patients should be made aware of how their information will be used, shared, and protected. This principle ensures that patients understand how their information will be used and provides them with an opportunity to object to its use if they so choose.


In order to be an effective guardian of patient information, you must first understand the basic principles put forth by Dame Caldicott. With this understanding, you can implement measures in your organization that will help to protect patient data and ensure compliance with both privacy laws and ethical standards. Read Lead Academy’s post about Caldicott principles ; we hope it will help you in your efforts to safeguard patient information.

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