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Why I joined the CAG - a blog by Sarah Palmer-Edwards

Last updated on 10 May 2023

A blog by Sarah Palmer-Edwards on why she joined the Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG).

Sarah is head of information governance and data protection officer at Barts Health NHS Trust. She joined the CAG in April 2023 along with five other new members.

In my role as head of information governance and data protection officer at Barts Health NHS Trust I routinely see applications from our researchers before they are sent to the CAG for review and I also see proposals for data use that rely upon the recommendation for approval provided by the CAG.

I’ve also previously referred to the minutes from CAG meetings to understand more about the decisions they’ve made and how they impact my work. When I saw the opportunity to become an expert member, I recognised that it would be an invaluable opportunity to further my understanding of what happens during the CAG approvals process, from submission to approval being granted.

I felt that understanding this process more would put me in a better position to provide advice to applicants within my own organisation. For example, I’m currently supporting our Life Sciences Precision Medicine programme.

I also felt that I would be able to add value to the CAG with my experience of data protection and confidentiality within health and social care.

I knew that I would find it rewarding to apply my skills and experiences to such an important task. It’s always been clear to me that the CAG provides a vital service and that being a CAG member is a great responsibility, as we make judgements on whether common law can be breached or not, and if public interest is served.

At first, I wasn’t sure whether to apply, having a busy job and young children, but I could see how flexible the arrangement was. You only need to attend seven meetings per year, which felt achievable. I was also impressed that the roles have been made so accessible.

During my induction I felt welcomed and supported and it was immediately evident that each member’s input is valued. It would be easy to have imposter syndrome with the amount of experience in the virtual room around you, but it was made so clear to me that it is the different backgrounds and different perspectives that the members each bring that helps the group to achieve what it sets out to do. I’m excited to be a part of it and can’t wait to get stuck in.

Sarah Palmer-Edwards.jpeg

New CAG member Sarah Palmer-Edwards

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