Patient Access for Older Children

We all value our privacy. There’s probably nothing more valuable than our personal medical information. Middlewood takes your personal and confidential information incredibly seriously.

However, more than ever, people quite rightfully have a right to see what information an organisation holds on them. This has been established in law with the GDPR (general data protection regulation) rights. The NHS is no exception to this.

So how does an organisation with 34,000 records, with a duty to protect your data, but at the same time share it appropriately, deal with this challenge? We continue to recommend the use of Patient Access. This portal not only allows you to see your own medical data, but allows you to order your medication also.

Middlewood has followed national guidance that anyone over the age of 16 can view their data, and can also nominate a proxy to view their data if they have consented to it, or an alternative legal arrangement in place (such as a Lasting power of Attorney for health). Parents of children under 11 can also view their children’s records. All you need is to provide proof of address, photo ID, and fill in the appropriate forms found here . Unless the information in your record is deemed potentially harmful to you, your GP will grant access after reviewing your request and notes. This may take a few weeks.

The challenge comes when providing access for older children and teenagers aged 11-16. All will develop at different times. Capacity to understand the implication of their decisions is not dependent on their age, more their maturity and family situation. In addition, the issue of breaching confidentiality to their parents or guardians for young teenagers is the most common reason for not accessing appropriate care. As a GP, I sometimes consult with vulnerable people as young as 12 who wish to share things on private that I need to document but do so in the knowledge that their confidence in me will be respected and not shared inappropriately. However, I have other situations in mind where kids in their mid teens really do need the support of their parents, and their wellbeing overrides any issues of confidentiality due to their need for parental support. A case by case balancing act of best interests, parental rights, safeguarding and the law.

Our regulatory body‘s (Cheshire CCG) safeguarding leads have therefore recommended that we do not offer automatic access to either parents or children aged 11-16 to Patient Access. This has been agreed and adopted by the Middlewood partnership. Instead, we can provide access to records on a case by case basis, based on an assessment of that individual child’s needs and capacity, through our other online consultation tool – AskMyGP. Likewise, medication for children aged 11-16 can be ordered this way too. We do not restrict access, but we are not granting automatic access through Patient Access. Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity as GPs to assess every patient aged 11-16 on a yearly basis to establish if their parents can access their records via Patient Access. However, just because we have not used this specific online tool as a method of accessing your child’s notes, it doesn’t mean that, with the right assessment and safeguards around a child’s safety and confidentiality in place, we cannot share records on a case by case basis. We just need to ensure this is done via our usual consultation portal, AskMyGP. Many thanks for your understanding.

We feel this strikes the right balance between confidentiality, the rights of parents/guardians, and children of all levels of maturity and need, to access their records within the rules of law and safeguarding policy.