Requests from social care for information

Some interesting information in the Pulse Learning child safeguarding module:

If social care request information about a patient, we are not actually obliged to give it, and can refuse to do so if we feel that would put us or the family at risk. It is the responsibility of Social Services to get consent from the person or family (although we can disclose without consent if we think that in the best interests of a child; as always, document).

It may be worth asking for the information in writing and asking them to state why they want it, what they will do with it, to whom they will show it, and whether they have consent. It is good practice to give the information in writing so that a copy can be given to the patient if they wish it (unless that is likely to increase the risk to the child). Any information we send should be relevant and proportionate.

The consent requests vary according to the type of information required and why:

  • Requests under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 – to provide services for children in need, usually because the parents are having difficulty coping. These requests always require the parent’s consent and co-operation.
  • Requests under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 – to provide protection from a child who is at significant risk of harm (or who has been harmed). They can sometimes include requests for information about the parents’ and siblings’ health. Social care will normally seek parental consent, unless doing so would put the child at risk of significant harm.
  • Requests from the LSCB (Local Safeguarding Children’s Board) – they may request information for serious case reviews. They are expected to involve the parents at an early stage and request their consent, but they can legally obtain the records even if consent is denied.

About Dr Sarah

I'm a GP with a husband and two young children.
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