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Data Security and Protection Toolkit and NHSmail: update for adult social care providers

Data Security and Protection Toolkit and NHSmail: update for adult social care providers


The Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) is a really helpful, annual self-assessment for health and care organisations. It shows you what you need to do to keep people’s information safe, and to protect your business from the risk of a data breach or a cyber attack. Once you’ve completed the DSPT, it will help you demonstrate, to the people you support, your commissioners, GPs and other NHS services, that you are handling information securely. It is a pre-requisite for access to NHS systems, including NHSmail and Proxy Access to GP records.

NHSX are announcing two changes in relation to the DSPT for adult social care providers.

Fast track access to NHSmail – extended to 30 June 2021

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, secure communication between health and social care services is more important than ever.  To support this, care providers are able to access NHSmail without the need to complete the DSPT. The original deadline for this waiver was 31 March 2021.

Following a review by NHSX, the waiver has now been extended to 30 June 2021, in line with the deadline for 2020/21 DSPT social care self-assessments.

New DSPT status for care providers: Approaching Standards

There are different levels of DSPT compliance and providers can publish at Entry Level, Standards Met or Standards Exceeded.

Entry Level was introduced on a temporary basis and was only available for social care providers. Entry Level demonstrates compliance with basic legal requirements. This level will come to an end in March 2021.

A new Approaching Standards status will be introduced on 5 March 2021. Approaching Standards is not a direct replacement for Entry Level. It is a new status available to care providers who have demonstrated good progress but have not yet reached Standards Met.

Providers who are completing the DSPT at local level using the location’s V code will see the Approaching Standards view from 5 March 2021.

Providers who are completing the DSPT with a head office code beginning A or C will see the Approaching Standards view from 19 March 2021.

DSPT submissions need to be published by 30 June 2021.


  • If you have already published a self-assessment for 2020/21 at Entry Level, you will need to reassess your publication and achieve Approaching Standards as a minimum by 30 June 2021.
  • If you have already published a self-assessment for 2020/21 at Standards Met no further action is required for 2020/21.
  • If you have not previously registered for the DSPT and have not completed a submission, please do so by 30 June 2021.

Additional information and Support

The Better Security, Better Care support programme will be available to help care providers to understand and reach Approaching Standards and above. This will include: new guidance from Digital Social Care; films; webinars; FAQs; a comprehensive local support programme with a strong focus on small and medium sized organisations; and a national support programme for larger care groups. This support programme will be launched in March.

Oxford Brookes University are running webinars to explain what is changing in more detail:

If you have queries about Approaching Standards, you can contact the Digital Social Care Team at [email protected].

To keep up to date with information about digital and data security, including the DSPT, register for the free Digital Social Care e-newsletter.

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