An exchange of relevant information between professionals is essential in order to protect children.
Although those providing services to adults and children may be concerned about the need to balance their duties to protect children from harm and their general duties of confidentiality towards their patient or service user, the overriding concern must always be the safety of the child. Wherever possible, consent should be obtained before sharing personal information with third parties but when dealing with
Child Protection concerns these must always override the need to maintain confidentiality or obtaining consent from families. The safety of the child is always the paramount consideration.
The basis for information sharing can be found across
- National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland;
- Protecting Children and Young people: Framework for Standards (2004);
- Sharing Information about children at risk of abuse or neglect: A brief guide to good practice (2004);
- Data Protection Act (1998)
- Child Protection Guidance for Health Professionals; and,
- General Medical Council guidance Protecting Children and Young People
Information-sharing for child protection: general principles
Consent is not required where the protection of a child is at risk of significant harm. The safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child are of central importance when making decisions to lawfully share information with or about them.
Children have a right to express their views and have them taken into account when decisions are made about what should happen to them.
The reasons why information needs to be shared and particular actions taken should be communicated openly and honestly with children and, where appropriate, their families.
At all times, information shared should be relevant, necessary and proportionate to the circumstances of the child, and limited to those who need to know.
When gathering information about possible risks to a child, information should be sought from all relevant sources, including services that may be involved with other family members. Relevant historical information should also be taken into account.
When information is shared, a record should be made of when it was shared, with whom, and for what purpose, in what form and whether it was disclosed with or without informed consent.
Similarly, any decision not to share information should also be recorded.