Further state encroachment into learners’ lives – worrying developments

A Welsh Government consultation will mandate sharing of young people’s data, including confidential medical data, without consent, or even their knowledge, with local authorities’ education departments. This appears to be an attempt to further encroach on the parental duty to make the decision concerning, and then to secure, a suitable education for their child/ren, and in particular a back door into non-consensual data collection about children being educated otherwise than in school. This is being proposed despite the fact that the vast majority of “Children Missing Education” are known to be on a school roll, but not attending.

An earlier version of these proposals was consulted on in 2020, and in response the General Medical Council expressed significant reservations about the negative impact these might well have on the relationship between patients and medical services.

They raised a number of concerns, including their understanding that “all patient information attracts the common law duty of confidentiality.” They also warned, “Requiring doctors to share information about children and young people and their parents could cause some to disengage with health services, affecting not only their health but also potentially the health of their local communities.”

In the revised proposals, published in January and currently under consultation, the Welsh Government seems to have taken no account of the GMC’s significant concerns from four years ago. This failure prompted Dr  McKee to research what the outcomes might be if the revised proposals were implemented, based on the real experiences of home educators over the years. Three hundred and thirty responses “present or former home educating parents or carers” were received in just under three weeks. The resulting report “Confidentiality and Respect – Impact of Attitudes and Conduct of Healthcare Professionals towards Home Educating Families” looks at the effects of previous discriminatory attitudes and inappropriate breaches of confidentiality on families’ willingness to access health services, and the potential to damage that vital trust-based practitioner-patient relationship in the future.

Download PDF  – Confidentiality and Respect Report 2024