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NMC urges Scottish members to respect patient privacy after named persons court ruling



Nurses should continue following the NMC code after a court ruled against part of the Children and Young People Act

Nurses are being asked to continue following the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code after a Supreme Court ruling against part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act last month.

Following a judicial review on July 28, the Supreme Court found that the information-sharing provisions in Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act are incompatible with the right to privacy outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Part 4 of the Act says that “Named Persons”, who are in charge of supporting children and young people and their parents, also have responsibilities relating to information sharing.

This includes conditions for when information must be shared following a change in named person services (NPS) provider and includes additional powers of disclosure where the NPS provider holds information and it considers that providing it to another relevant authority is “necessary or expedient”.

Part 4 was challenged by way of judicial review on the basis that it breaches the Article 8 right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Some nurses and midwives, including health visitors, may have been appointed by a service provider to act as a Named Person under the provisions of the Act which were due to come in to force in August 2016, however the Supreme Court’s findings will now need to be addressed before this can happen.

In the meantime the NMC is urging its nurses and midwives to follow section five of its code, which outlines its privacy and safeguarding standards.

Section five of the NMC code highlights a nurse’s duty of confidentiality and adds that only “necessary information” should be shared with other healthcare professionals and agencies “only when the interests of patient safety and public protection override the need for confidentiality”.

An NMC spokesperson said: “Should the named persons framework set out in the Act take effect in the future, then nurses and midwives must continue to uphold the standards set out in our Code which also include standards on an individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality, prioritising people, raising concerns, and practising within ones competence.”