BMA 'pleased' with proposed named person changes

Written by Tom Freeman on 8 March 2017 in News

Attempts to bring named person provision under consensual data sharing welcomed by doctors

Child at doctor's - Alex Proimos

Scottish Government plans to address concerns over data-sharing in its named person scheme have been welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Yesterday Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced a new Bill to bring the named person scheme within information-sharing laws will be introduced before the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess.

Under the scheme a single professional will be a point of contact for all services for every child and their families. This would usually be a health visitor or teacher.


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However doctors raised concerns this could breach professional confidentiality with their patients. The plans were since successfully challenged at the UK Supreme Court, where judges ruled it was incompatible with the right to privacy.

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said the confidentiality of personal health information “is the cornerstone” of the relationship between people and their family doctor.

“The BMA has been raising concerns about the information sharing requirements of the named person legislation since the [original] bill was first being considered and we are pleased to hear that new legislation will be introduced to ensure that information will only be shared with consent in all but the most exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“Patient confidentiality must be maintained wherever possible and access to patient information without the consent or knowledge of a patient should be used only where there is perceived risk to the individual.”

Meanwhile yesterday’s announcement was also welcomed by the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (CELCIS) at the University of Strathclyde.

CELCIS director Jennifer Davidson said the announcement supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“It is only in working together in Scotland that we can support children and young people well, particularly those who have experienced adversity. This collective commitment requires sensitive, considered, and careful communication between professionals about children’s wellbeing,” she said.

“Our experience of working with local services throughout Scotland is that children and families are not consistently getting the services they need. We are hopeful that the named person service will prevent people’s circumstances to not reach crisis point, before they can access services for help.

“The right services at the right time is an essential ingredient in ensuring children and young people grow up to reach their full potential.”

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