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Describe situations where information normally considered to be confidential might need to be passed on

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

Although we should always respect the privacy of the individuals we support by keeping their personal information private, there may be times when it is necessary to pass information that is usually considered confidential onto others.

If a new member of support staff will be working with an individual, it will be necessary to share information with them so that they are able to carry out their work correctly. Usually, you would ask for consent from the individual first.

In some cases, it is right and correct to pass personal information on without the individual’s consent, however.

If the individual or somebody else is likely to come to serious harm from not disclosing information or there is the potential for a serious crime to be committed then it is prudent to break confidentiality.

Similarly, if an individual discloses that they have been abused or you have suspicions that abuse has taken place, this information must be passed on to the relevant person(s).

When information is shared in this manner, it can result in tension between an individual and the professional that has made the disclosure. The individual may feel betrayed and it may make them wary about opening up in the future. The professional should be sympathetic to the individual but explain that they have a duty of care to share information to protect the individual and others. A professional should never say that they will keep a secret and explain that in certain circumstances it is their responsibility to pass on information. This should be explained from the outset if information must be shared without an individual’s consent they must still be informed that it has been passed on.

If an individual is unable to communicate with others (for example, if they are unconscious) you do not need their consent to pass on personal information that could potentially save their lives to paramedics or doctors. You can assume implied consent.

Finally, judicial agencies such as the crown court can demand information in relation to a case and you must comply with their request.