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Caldicott Guardian and SIRO – why one person can’t do it all.

While it might seem convenient to assign the roles of Senior Information Risk Owner and Caldicott Guardian to a single person, a closer look reveals the intricacies and challenges that make this approach less viable.

A Caldicott Guardian (CG) is responsible for protecting patient confidentiality, a role that demands a deep understanding of medical ethics, healthcare regulations, and the unique intricacies of patient data management. Someone in situ as CG needs to ensure that patient information is handled responsibly, ethically, and in compliance with relevant healthcare standards. A Caldicott Guardian is typically a senior role who can advise others on all areas of data protection related to health and social care.

Whereas the Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO), on the other hand, is responsible for managing information risks across the organisation. This role necessitates expertise in broader information security, including data flows, cybersecurity protocols, regulatory landscapes, and the potential risks associated with various types of data.

Merging these 2 specialised areas could lead to a diluted focus, potentially compromising the effectiveness of both roles and causing conflict.

The Caldicott Guardian‘s primary focus is on maintaining patient confidentiality and building trust between healthcare providers and patients. They might need to limit data sharing to protect individual privacy, even if it means adopting a cautious approach. Caldicott Guardian’s should be able to ensure their department or organisation is compliant within the eight Caldicott principles, as well as the wider data protection legislation.

In contrast, the SIRO, has to balance information risk across the organisation, considering not just patient data but all types of sensitive information, such as HR records or supplier details. This broader perspective might require decisions that prioritise overall organisational security over the stringent privacy concerns of individual patients.

The workload and efficiency of both can therefore be comprised.

The Caldicott Guardian needs to be kept abreast of patient data privacy which requires continuous monitoring, training, and collaboration with clinical teams. It demands meticulous attention to detail and prompt decision-making. Whereas the SIRO, as part of their role of managing information risk, needs an organisational perspective to constantly assess, strategise and implement security measures across various departments.

So, while the idea of combining the roles of a Caldicott Guardian and SIRO might seem practical at first, the unique demands and challenges associated with each role make it less feasible in practice. Specialised expertise, conflicting priorities, legal complexities, and workload considerations all point to the importance of maintaining the separation of these roles.

Effective data privacy and information security require dedicated individuals who can navigate the intricacies of each area and make informed decisions that protect both patient confidentiality and organisational data integrity.

There are options to train your staff, either as an individual by joining our open courses, or through bespoke training booked for one organisation or as part of a group.  BLS Stay Compliant can, and regularly does, act as these roles within your organisation through our managed service offering, or can offer to be advisors to the colleagues in situ. Please get in touch with us to find out more on this.

Caldicott Guardian Training – BLS Stay Compliant (

Senior Information Risk Owner Course Training – BLS Stay Compliant (

BLS Stay Compliant has a wealth of experience and regularly works on behalf of clients in SIRO or CG roles. We also offer training for those new to the role or who would like to top up thier knowledge, either through our open courses (above) or bespoke sessions tailored to organisations. For bespoke sessions or advice, please do get in touch with us via the below form or, if you’re interested in joining one of our open training sessions, click the link above.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

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