Split data-sharing plan ‘unworkable’

Split data-sharing plan ‘unworkable’ Plans to introduce separate
information-sharing procedures for health professionals and the
rest of the children’s workforce have been branded as unworkable by
a leading social care figure, writes Amy

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, said it was wrong to have different procedures and that
relationships between health and social care staff were not good
enough for the plans to work.

Guidance put out to consultation last week recommends a new
two-tier approach to disclosing information for health

Under the proposals, health staff who had a reasonable suspicion
that a child was being harmed due to abuse or neglect could contact
other professionals for more information, but would not be required
to disclose the nature of their concerns.

They would combine this new information with their own and decide
whether the child could be in danger.

The government argues that the approach is necessary because of the
sensitive nature of information held by health staff, but Johnston
said the information held by social workers was just as

He feared that the distant relationships between the two
professions and their mutual distrust could militate against the
proposals working in practice.

Johnston said: “Social workers have always been concerned about
[health professionals] not sharing information when they should.”

Caroline Abrahams, director of public policy at children’s charity
NCH, said that, although the guidance was intended to clarify
information-sharing procedures, its length and wording could have
the opposite effect.

“If I was a practitioner and I was faced with a document of such
complexity about information-sharing it would not make me more
confident,” she said.

Abrahams also highlighted the fact that the guidelines are
non-statutory, so there would be no guarantee that professionals
would follow the proposed procedures.

A spokesperson for the NHS Confederation welcomed the guidance and
the two-tier approach for health professionals.

The consultation closes in November.

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