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Information sharing guidance
We have prepared this guidance to assist front line staff who work in Partner Agencies in Ayrshire. The Partners are East, North and South Ayrshire Councils Social Work, Education and Housing, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, the Voluntary Sector, Strathclyde Police and the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration. All of the partners have different functions and responsibilities but we need to share information between and among ourselves at different times and for different purposes. We can do this electronically, verbally or in writing.
In line with our Information Sharing Protocol (access the current version at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/getting-it-right-for-every-child), each agency’s staff have different access and ‘input’ permission levels to shared information. This will vary according to the roles of different staff, in order that only information which needs to be shared, is shared. The guidance relates to sharing information about children and adults who may require intervention from different partner agencies to meet their health, social care, educational, or housing needs. It covers sharing information with and without the person’s consent. It is clearly unacceptable for inter and intra agency information sharing processes to fail children, young people and vulnerable adults.
This document sits beneath the Scottish Executive’s ‘Gold Standard’ Protocol. The Gold Standard is a ‘high level’ document designed to deal with the overall legal and technical elements that are required.
Significant information sharing already exists in areas such as: referrals for assessment of need because of difficulties in learning; for assistance/support because of concerns about a child’s welfare, health or behaviour, a family’s homelessness; etc. All of these circumstances routinely require us to share some information among some or all of the partner agencies.
In some circumstances, we have a duty to share information. A decision not to do so, or failure to do so, would require to be justified and recorded by the individual concerned. We have a legal duty to share information when it is in the best interests of the child or young person and similar considerations can often apply to vulnerable adults. To do this correctly, we must share information in compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act, professional standards and the common law duty of confidentiality.
In cases of abuse or risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, consultation about sharing does not apply.
This is sub divided into areas which outline the good practice processes for staff.
- Who can consent to the sharing of personal information
- How to seek, obtain and record consent (in appropriate circumstances)
- Dealing with consent being refused
- Consent is withdrawn
- Someone may be unable to provide consent
- Sharing information without seeking consent, or ignoring a refusal to share information about a vulnerable child or adult (in appropriate circumstances)
- Information sharing pre birth
- Review process
- Sharing information about a person who may pose a significant risk to staff
Children, Young People and their parents/carers should be fully involved in any assessment, planning and decision making processes. Their agreement for information to be shared should be sought before any other agency is contacted and asked for information. This should be recorded in Section 10 of the Child’s Assessment and Plan. Their signatures should be included in Section 21 after the assessment has been completed.
A guidance booklet for practitioner’s, parental guidance leaflet, z-card for young people and the most up-to-date Information Sharing Protocol can be found at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/getting-it-right-for-every-child.