"The manner of some staff over ..."

About: Northern General Hospital

(as a relative),

What could be improved

The manner of some staff over the phone. While I appreciate confidentiality must be respected I do feel that as a parent enquiring about their 16 year old daughter was totally treat with little or no respect and told in no uncertain terms to ring my daughter to find out any medical advice that may have been given to her regarding burns to her face and her arm. I was merly trying to find out if there was anything I needed to do to help the healing process. Why is it not possible to share information with relatives and indeed next of kin?

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Response from Northern General Hospital

We were sorry to hear that you felt the response you received from a member of staff was not what you would expect. As your comment has indicated, there is a strict policy regarding the disclosure of patient’s confidential details, which all Trust staff are required to follow.

We treat patient confidentiality extremely seriously, and staff would not share confidential information over the telephone in the kind of situation described above, without being able to confirm whether the patient had given consent. We are very sorry that this was not clearly explained to you during your enquiry about your daughter.

In answer to your question, it is usually the patient’s decision as to whom the Trust can share their confidential information with. In respect of young people the test would be whether or not the young person has capacity under the Gillick competency test to make such a decision. Ideally, the young person should be encouraged to discuss things with their parents / next of kin.

We do recognise the valuable support patients receive from their relatives, carers or parents, for this reason we encourage patients to bring someone for support to appointments. In this way the health professional can share confidential information with the patient’s consent, and the person offering the support will be aware of the treatment plan.

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