If an individual cannot give consent to share information at the point when consent is required, the practitioner should ask three basic questions:
- Does the person, (including children aged 12-15) understand the nature of consent and its consequences?
- Is there a legitimate need to share?
- Will failure to share mean that appropriate care will not be given or the person will be at risk?
The practitioner should discuss sharing without the individual’s consent with a relevant person (depending on the person’s family and social circumstances) e.g. a parent, carer, ‘named person’, GP or the practitioner’s line manager. For example, in the case of an older person who seems confused and tells a health practitioner that they do not want their information shared with the social work department but needs domestic or personal care services and has no other access to these.
In the case of a child or children, consent may rest with the parent if the child or children are under 12 years of age or ‘not deemed to have capacity’. In such cases, we will need to consider the parent’s capacity to understand the nature and consequences of consent being withheld. Serious concerns about the child or children’s welfare (see below) would override parental withholding of consent.
Where an adult or child is deemed not to have capacity, the practitioner should record in the individual’s case notes:
- Why the decision was made
- Who was involved
- The purpose of sharing information
- What information is to be shared, with whom and the date
We should inform the service user and/or their carer of the decision. We need to inform the recipient of the information of the basis on which the decision to share was made.
Serious concerns about the child or children’s welfare (see below) override parental withholding on consent.