Any sharing of information should be done with consent unless a person is at significant risk of harm. This page considers what is meant by consent.

The issue of consent can be complex, and lack of understanding about consent can sometimes mean that practitioners assume, incorrectly, that no information can be shared.

What is consent?

Consent should be informed. This means that the person giving consent should understand:

Consent can be either explicit or implicit. Getting explicit consent is best practice and such consent should be obtained at the start of any work.

Consent can be verbal or written, however written consent is preferable. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Implicit versus explicit consent:

A GP refers a patient to a specialist with their agreement. The GP will assume that the patient has given implicit consent to share information with the specialist by agreeing to the referral.

A family support worker starts working with a family. At the start of their work they go through a form with the family to get written agreement as to which other professionals they can speak with (e.g. school, health visitor). This is explicit consent to share information with these professionals.

You should respect the wishes of family members if they do not want information shared, unless someone will be placed at risk of serious harm if you don't share the information.

If in doubt speak to your agency's designated child protection advisor.

Make sure that the information that you are sharing is accurate and up to date. The information should be necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it and only shared with those who need to know it. Having decided to share information you need not tell everyone everything. The information should also be shared securely, i.e. not within the hearing of somebody who has no right to that information.

You should always record the reason for your decision; whether you shared the information or not.

This page was added to the website on 2 July 2015