Scottish Executive inspection proposals may stop children seeking medical help

The BMA has warned the Scottish parliament’s education committee that allowing inspectors access to children’s medical records without their consent will deter them from seeking help when they are at their most vulnerable.

The proposals are contained within the Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Bill, stage 1 of which is due to be completed by 7 December this year.

The BMA fears that the doctor/patient relationship could be eroded if children fear that doctors cannot guarantee confidentiality.

Speaking after his appearance before the education committee today, deputy chairperson of the BMA’s Scottish Council David Love, said: “We do not believe that allowing inspectors access to patient’s confidential medical records without consent for what is essentially an audit of past cases, is necessary. Rather than forcing doctors to break the bond of trust they have with their young patients, we would propose that consent is sought before accessing this sensitive data.”

He urged the Scottish executive to allow young people to have a say in the proposals. “It would be appropriate for the Scottish Executive to seek their views on whether the possibility of inspection teams gaining access to this information without their knowledge or consent would deter them from accessing care before rushing this bill through parliament.”

In response, the Scottish executive said the bill had received significant support. However, it has invited 
further comments on its proposals for implementation and “will be taking these views fully into account”.

Its spokesperson said:“Safeguarding the confidentiality of individuals is of the utmost importance to us all. This bill, backed up by the regulations and detailed protocol will ensure that the confidentiality of information and the identity of individuals is maintained in full compliance with the law.”

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