The British Medical Association has called for the names and
details of health care practitioners involved in sensitive services
be kept off information-sharing databases.
The BMA says there should be a “blanket omission” on including
details of practitioners working in child and adolescent mental
health services, psychotherapy, drugs or alcohol misuse, sexual
health, HIV and teenage pregnancy.
The association’s stance emphasises the gulf that exists between
health care practitioners and the government on
information-sharing, as the consultation closed on the databases
outlined in the Children Act 2004.
The government is proposing that details of practitioners in
targeted and specialist services should be put on the database only
with the consent of the child, young person, parent or carer.
However, it adds that “in exceptional circumstances” professionals
can add their details to the database in spite of a lack of consent
if they judge that it is in the best interests of the child.
The BMA said these proposals were “not acceptable” for
practitioners working in sensitive health services. Even if their
details were added with consent, it feared it could create a
perception of an erosion of confidentiality that could deter young
people from accessing services.
It is also concerned that practitioners might subsequently decide
to share additional information with other professionals detailed
on the database without explicit consent from a child to do so.
It proposes in its place a system where sensitive health services
practitioners could access a child’s record to see who else was
involved in their care.
This would enable them to contact the most appropriate practitioner
if they had any concerns, without identifying themselves to all
professionals in contact with that child. It highlights GPs as
being the most likely to fit this role.
By contrast, the Local Government Association’s submission argues
that details of all practitioners in sensitive services should be
included on the database but should only be accessible to
“essential practitioners”, as determined in the regulations. This
group could include a lead professional or a child protection
The fact that the child or young person is in contact with
sensitive services, however, should be accessible to all, it adds.