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Information sharing with Separated Parents

Updated on Thursday, 2 February 2017, 1122 views

Some important information for you to note when you are asked by separated parents for information about their child:

Adopted Children
Where a child has been formally adopted, the adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents and automatically acquire parental responsibility.
Parental Responsibility
In some circumstances people other than parents acquire parental responsibility, for example by the appointment of a guardian or on the order of a court. A local authority acquires parental responsibility (shared with the parents) while the child is the subject of a care or supervision order. If there is doubt about whether the person giving or withholding consent to access has parental responsibility, legal advice should be sought.
Refusal of Information (Practices as the Data Controller)
The holder of the record is entitled to refuse access to a parent, or an individual with parental responsibility where the information contained in the child’s records is likely to cause serious harm to the child, or another person where:it is likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to the patient or another person; or it relates to a third party who has not given consent for disclosure (where that third party is not a health professional who has cared for the patient);

The data controller should redact, or block out any withheld information, and must be prepared to justify the decision to do so. The data controller may advise patients of the grounds on which information has been withheld, but is not obliged to do so. There is still an obligation to disclose the remainder of the records.
While the responsibility for the decision, as to whether or not to disclose information, rests with the data controller, advice about serious harm must be taken by the data controller from the appropriate health professional.
If the data controller is not the appropriate health professional, then the appropriate health professional needs to be consulted before the records are disclosed. This is usually the health professional currently or most recently responsible for the clinical care of the patient in respect of the matters which are the subject of the request. If there is more than one, it should be the person most suitable to advise. If there is none, advice should be sought from another health professional who has suitable qualifications and experience.
Circumstances in which information may be withheld on the grounds of serious harm are extremely rare, and this exemption does not justify withholding comments in the records because patients may find them upsetting.
Where there is any doubt as to whether disclosure would cause serious harm, we recommend that the appropriate health professional discusses the matter anonymously with an experienced colleague, the Caldicott guardian, or defence body.

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