Confidentiality may be hampering work of children’s staff, says Hughes

Guidance on confidentiality is “too restrictive” and prevents
effective information-sharing among children’s professionals,
children’s minister Beverley Hughes said this week.

The minister told a seminar at the Labour party conference that
confidentiality issues, particularly among health professionals,
could hinder the use of the government’s proposed database on 11
million children.

Hughes said confidentiality guidance gave professionals little
leeway and that a culture change was needed.

She said progress in interagency working in children’s trusts
varied across the country and hoped the children’s database would
act as a “catalyst” for agencies to work together.

Professor Brian Corby, head of social work at the University of
Central Lancashire, said professionals faced problems because of
the “speed of change” in services.

He said existing training in child care was insufficient and
pointed to a need for inter-disciplinary training. He added that
professionals should put information-sharing at the top of their
agenda and emphasised the importance of continuing training.

Colin Reid, Northern Ireland policy adviser at the NSPCC, asked
Hughes whether the database could be extended to cover Northern
Ireland and Scotland.

He said it was folly to create a system that did not take
account of children’s movements across national boundaries.

Hughes said no formal decision had yet been taken but admitted
it would be difficult to extend the database.


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