We’ve been warning for ages that GPs will be dragged into Named Person scheme and it has now been reported (Times, £) that they will be put under pressure to pass on confidential information about their patients.
We’re suggesting that you write to your doctor asking them what they make of this.
Named Persons (teachers & health visitors) could be given sensitive medical information about children and their parents. It’s easy to see how doctors could feel obliged to disclose if a parent is depressed, or pregnant, or seriously ill.
We all know doctor-patient confidentiality isn’t absolute. If a doctor thinks a child is at risk of significant harm they can and must breach confidentiality to protect the child. That’s been the law for years.
But the Named Person law dramatically lowers the threshold at which patient confidentiality must be breached. It falls from “risk of significant harm” to information “likely to be relevant to the exercise of the named person functions” which “affects or may affect the wellbeing of the child” – wellbeing, as we all know, meaning ‘happiness’”
The subjective threshold of ‘wellbeing’ is too low and too vague. It will badly damage trust between patients and doctors.
The official Named Person guidance says doctors “must consider whether the adult’s condition is affecting the wellbeing of a child or children”. If they decide it is, they need to decide “whether or not to share any information with the named person service”.
BMA Scotland warned about the implications of the legislation three years ago: “Confidentiality of personal health information is the cornerstone of the patient/doctor relationship. Patients need to be reassured that their health information, which they share in confidence with a doctor, will be treated confidentially otherwise they may feel unable to trust and seek help from healthcare professionals.”
This is what the Scottish Government is sacrificing in its blinkered insistence on the Named Person scheme.
The question is, do GPs know what the Named Person law demands of them?
Teachers and health visitors have already voiced serious concerns as they have begun to realise the massive problems in store for them. GPs need to speak up too.
Will you write a friendly letter to your doctor?
Ask your GP:
● Whether they’re aware of the demands placed on them by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
● If they will share your confidential medical information with Named Persons if asked to do so. Tell them how you feel about that.
● If they have already been asked to share information on you or your child with a Named Person.
● If they have had any advice from the BMA Scotland or the GMC about the Named Person scheme.
Encourage your friends to write too.
The NO2NP Team
NO2NP opposes the Scottish Government’s plan to assign a ‘Named Person’ to every child in Scotland because it undermines families and diverts resources away from children who need them. Get Involved