Demand for practitioners in sensitive health work to be left off databases

    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
    social worker.

    The fact that the child or young person is in contact with
    sensitive services, however, should be accessible to all, it adds.

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