Scrap the guidance stopping parental access to children’s medical records
Following implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Government has now issued a Briefing Paper entitled Patient records and confidentiality. As part of this, The British Medical Association (BMA) has produced guidance on confidentiality and the disclosure of health records in relation to children. The guidance states:
‘…children who are aged 12 or over are generally expected to have capacity to give or withhold their consent to the release of information …
If the child is competent to understand what is involved in the proposed treatment, the health professional should, unless there are convincing reasons to the contrary … respect the child’s wishes if they do not want parents or guardians to know. However, every reasonable effort must be made to persuade the child to involve parents or guardians particularly for important or life-changing decisions.’ (House of Commons Briefing Paper, Number 07103, 25 May 2018)
This means that Children age 12+ will have to give explicit consent allowing their parents or guardians access to their health records, otherwise all information will be withheld. The practical effect of this will be to give children the right to make decisions about medical treatment without their parents’ knowledge or consent – indeed, in possible opposition to their parents’ wishes. Moreover, in practice this will mean that children become reliant on advice given by medical practitioners, of whose identity their parents may be unaware and over whom they have no influence.
This will inevitably place children at risk, especially in relation to matters of sexual health and so-called gender choice.
Currently, as a society, we prohibit the purchase of both tobacco and alcohol below the age of 18. Since 1885, when an age limit was introduced to try and stop child prostitution, the age of consent for sexual intercourse for both boys and girls has been 16. A young person below the age of 18 cannot marry without parental consent, though with consent, a child can marry at 16.
There are sound reasons for these restrictions. It is recognized that children lack emotional maturity and judgment and, as a consequence, may indulge in hazardous behaviours that will endanger their future wellbeing and safety. The age limits are designed to keep them safe. Yet now we are apparently proposing to allow children to make permanent, life-changing, and potentially life-shortening decisions that, when older, they may bitterly regret.
The BMA guidance states that there is no presumption of competence under the age of 16 - but it goes on to state that, “If the child is competent to understand what is involved in the proposed treatment, the health professional should, unless there are convincing reasons to the contrary … respect the child's wishes if they do not want parents or guardians to know.” https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/ethics/confidentiality-and-heal... It makes no mention of the fact that the child may be influenced by, and rely on, the views of health professionals.
To spell this out, it means that children will be able to assume sole responsibility for any treatment they might have. For example, they will be able to choose whether or not to have contraception, whether or not to have an abortion, and to seek treatment for any STIs they might contract. In express contravention of existing NHS guidelines regarding treatment for gender dysphoria, recommending that invasive treatment not be given under the age of 18 (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/treatment/), they will also be able to request and obtain life-changing hormonal and surgical intervention, perhaps in direct and explicit opposition to their parents’ wishes.
This is not just an abuse of the rights and duty of parents to protect their children, but it is potentially dangerous. Far from enshrining a child’s right to privacy and choice, at the very least it exposes them to exploitation and abuse by the unscrupulous.
But it has other consequences too. What happens, for instance, when a post-abortion 13 year old haemorrhages and is rushed to hospital, and the parents can’t tell the over-worked doctor in A&E that she’s had an abortion – because they don’t know – so that she receives the wrong treatment? Or what happens to the child who develops clinical depression as result of inappropriate contraceptive advice, but tries to shoulder the burden alone, because she’s too ashamed to tell her parents why? Or the child who suffers a prolapse as result of anal intercourse? Or even the young person who at 12 decides they want sex change surgery – only to decide a couple of years later (as happens) that they made the wrong choice? This policy removes the inhibitions that currently act as safeguards. It removes all protection from children far too young to make life-changing decisions for themselves.
Twelve is too young to bear such responsibility! Parents have not just the right, but the duty, to protect their children – and for this they need to know what’s going on in their children’s lives.
We call on the Government to acknowledge parents as bearing primary responsibility for their children’s welfare and to scrap this lunatic guidance, which can only serve the ideological agenda of sexual libertarianism and LGBT and transgender activism. But will not protect children.
Give parents full access to their child’s online medical records until at least age 16.
Scrap the guidance stopping parental access to children’s medical records.
Petition to: The Prime Minister - The Rt Hon Theresa May MP