NHS Black Country ISG Case Study

Posted by Jodie Callaghan on 10/11/2023


Pippa Boulton (Information Governance Manager) is a huge advocate of the ISG across the region and is an active member of the super administrator network. I recently spent some time discussing the usage and benefits the ISG has provided across the NHS Black Country footprint.

The ISG access for NHS Black Country was initially funded under the NHSE Midlands licence agreement (Pre-formation of the ICS/ICBs). The footprint covers NHS Black Country ICS which includes the ICB, four Acute Trusts, one mental health lead provider, four local councils and 181 GP Practices (206 currently to support West Midlands practices with the shared care record).

Originally the use of the ISG was initiated as part of the One Health & Care shared care record. As part of the ShCR project relationships were established with our partners across the Black Country in signing up to a data sharing agreement (DSA) with Staffordshire & Stoke and Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin. As this relationship flourished, the platform was deployed across the GP practices to create and manage data sharing agreements (DSA) for other collaborative projects within the ICS. Our partners across the ICS are now familiar with the system and regularly acknowledge and sign-off agreements ahead of schedule, this was unheard of before adopting the digital solution in January 2022.

NHS Black Country ICB Footprint

The Challenges

The main challenge faced by NHS Black Country was the inability of obtaining a clear overview of signed data sharing agreements and being able to adjust to changes without having multiple iterations of one DSA or Data protection Impact Assessment (DPIA).

Without a digital solution in place to perform these tasks in a secure and central location, or the ability to track the status of agreements was incredibly time-consuming, especially chasing emails and keeping track of the latest version of a document. Often it was a struggle to obtain sign-off from some colleagues for various reasons, without having a digital solution in place this could regularly hold-up the ‘go-live’ dates of ISAs.

The ISG has addressed each of those issues to the stage where partners will query colleagues if a document has been sent for approval outside of the platform.

The Solution

As the ISG was used to create the One Health & Care shared care record alongside partners who were also adopting the system, a business justification case was already readily in place to support the procurement of the ICS/ICB wide subscription upon the expiration of the NHSE Midland's licensing agreement.

As a system, it provides us with the tools required to create and manage our DSA/Data Flows both locally and with organisations who are not currently registered on the platform. This ability allows us to maintain a standardised approach to all our DSAs.


In adopting the ISG into our processes, we have seen a significant rise in sign-up and sign-off to our DSAs which has resulted in a better relationship with our partners. If for example, they are ever challenged by CQC, each partner could access the system and provide the relevant evidence to support the reason for a DSA with the knowledge that due diligence has been completed.

We have a greater oversight of the live data sharing agreements, and we can check the status of others to see where the sign-off process has progressed at any time.


The upcoming release of the Sign off Enhancement work is what we are looking forward to, having the ability to add or remove an organisation from a DSA will greatly reduce the requirement to duplicate work. Personally, the system overall will hugely benefit from the migration across to one format as this will improve the flow and feel of the system for all users, especially those that utilise this on a regular basis.

The prospect of data flow mapping would be a huge assistance for not only us as an ICS/ICB but for all ISG users as this is not an easy process. The enhanced reporting update is something I would benefit from as the additional functionality will make the administration of the system much easier.

NHS Black Country Logo