All professionals who work with children and young people, parents and carers should know how and when to share information. This includes sharing data about adults if it is about safeguarding a child. All information sharing must meet the Data Protection Act 1998.
Caldicott principles relate to all health and social care organisations and each organisation should have internal guidance. It is important that all professionals are aware of the guidance and know who their Caldicott Guardian is. Agencies should provide relevant training and updates for all staff on information sharing.
You can use these tips to help you decide when to share confidential information.
- The Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information. It provides a framework to ensure that personal information is shared securely and with consent
- Be open and honest with the person from the outset about how their information is shared confidentially, and when and why you might need to do this
- Seek advice if you are in any doubt
- Get consent where possible. You may still share information without consent if in your judgement that it is in the public interest and safety of a child.
- Consider safety and well being. Base your information sharing decisions on the safety and wellbeing of anyone who may be affected by the information
- Ensure that when you share information that it is necessary, proportionate, relevant and accurate.
- Keep a record. If you decide to share information, then record what you have shared, with whom and why
Professionals working with children, parents or adults in contact with children, should always share information with children's social care where you suspect that a child may be suffering, or is at risk, of significant harm. Sharing information under these circumstances is in the public interest.
- Never assume that other professionals are taking the action you would expect; check with them directly
- Check your terminology. As professionals we all use our own jargon, but it may confuse people who are not familiar with it. Make sure that you use plain, jargon free English especially when working with professionals in other disciplines
- Get feedback and follow up; find out what action another professional will take as a result of the information you have given them and when they will do that. Verify that it has been done
Child protection is successful when agencies work well together and share information. These guides and resources can help you do that.
- Information Sharing: Guidance for practitioners and managers
- How to identify which rules apply when sharing information (DfE, 2011)
- How to record decisions (DfE, 2011)
- How to seek consent (DfE, 2011)
- How to share information securely (DfE, 2011)
- How to judge capacity to give consent (DfE, 2011)
Local information sharing protocols for specific purposes: