Friday, April 28, 2006

Database Masterclass

From next Tuesday, ARCH is starting a project to give factual information about the range of databases that hold information on children and young people.

The Database Masterclass will have daily blogs, each covering a different system, and each instalment will build into your very own handy reference guide. (We can't offer plastic ring-binders, though)

If you want to understand what's going on with children's databases, join us at next week.


At Friday, April 28, 2006 11:18:00 AM, Anonymous Watching Them, Watching Us said...

I shall add a link to Spy Blog.

Is this Ministerial Statement published on Thursday, a step in the right direction, or will it have no positive effect ?

Information Sharing Index (Sensitive Services)

The Minister for Children and Families (Beverley Hughes): I am today announcing the Government's decisions on how the details of practitioners providing sensitive services should be recorded on the information sharing index.

Section 12 of the Children Act 2004 provides for the establishment of an information sharing index. The Government announced, during the passage of the Children Bill, that there would be a public consultation on three issues relating to the operation of the index

recording practitioner details for potentially sensitive services on the index;

access by authorised users to practitioner details once recorded; and

recording the fact of a concern on the index.

The consultation ran from 27 October 2004 to 19 January 2005. There were some strongly expressed concerns in response to the consultation that recording details of sensitive services, such as mental and sexual health and drug abuse, may deter children and young people from accessing those services.

The Government's response to the consultation was issued in a written ministerial statement on 30 June 2005. In the light of the views expressed, the response set out decisions to implement a differentiated approach to recording details where for a limited number of services, restricted to targeted and specialist health services, consent would be required to record practitioner details on the index. The response committed my Department to further work, with the Department of Health, to define those services that would, for the purposes of the information sharing index, be considered sensitive.

26 Apr 2006 : Column 43WS

The Government have decided that services related to sexual health, mental health and substance abuse should be the broad categories defined as sensitive. The following, specific service areas are those where practitioner details will only be included with consent:

Sexual Health—information, advice and treatment for pregnancy, abortion, contraception; sexually transmitted infections including services related to HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C; rape crisis or sexual violence; sexual abuse and services related to Gay/Lesbian or Trans-Gender issues;

Mental Health—Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services tiers two, three and four which includes referrals to and assessment and treatment by, community based and in-patient teams dealing with, for example, sexual abuse and eating disorders; and

Substance Abuse—information, advice and treatment for drug, alcohol or volatile substance abuse (glue, aerosols and butane gas).

Currently, there are regulations covering disclosure of information about sexually transmitted infections which would not permit practitioners providing services in this area to include their details on the index even with explicit consent. The Department of Health plans to consult on regulatory change, well before the index is implemented in 2008, which would then, subject to the will of Parliament, permit, with explicit consent, the inclusion of these details on the index.

The Government's response to the consultation stated that there would be a facility to over-ride lack of consent to record practitioner details in sensitive services on the index, but to restrict it to carefully specified circumstances, in line with existing law, such as where there are genuine child protection concerns.

Where consent is given to record practitioner details for the sensitive service on the index, the child's index record will indicate to other practitioners that an unspecified, sensitive service is working with the child. On-line access to the sensitive service practitioner's name and contact details will be restricted to index management teams. A practitioner who wanted to contact the specialist service about the child would make a case to the index management team who would, as appropriate, broker contact with the sensitive services practitioner.

The Government announced on 8 December 2005 that the information sharing index will be implemented across all 150 local authorities in England by the end of 2008. We will seek Parliament's agreement in autumn 2006 to the main Regulations to govern the operation of the index. We will consult publicly on draft regulations in the summer of 2006.

At Friday, April 28, 2006 12:03:00 PM, Blogger archrights said...

Yes, it's a huge relief, and certainly something that a lot of practitioners have been concerned about - the mere presence of contact details for a 'sensitive' service, such as drug treatment or a GUM clinic, on a child's file reveals a great deal of information.

However, the meaning of 'consent' needs explanation, and that's something we'll cover in the next couple of weeks - so if we can leave it there just for the moment? We're currently working on getting all the material into the most understandable order we can manage.

At Friday, May 05, 2006 8:01:00 AM, Blogger Carlotta said...

I personally feel that recording the name and addresses of my family in a place in which I do not give consent constitutes a matter of dealing with very sensitive information, but perhaps that's just me?


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