Statement on Scotland legal ruling

Nurses and midwives must continue to work in accordance with the Code following Supreme Court ruling

On the 28 July the Supreme Court ruled on a judicial review brought against Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and found that the information-sharing provisions within the Act are incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Some nurses and midwives, including health visitors, may have been appointed by a service provider to act as a Named Person under the provisions of the Act which were due to come in to force in August 2016, however the Supreme Court’s findings will now need to be addressed before this can happen. We understand from the Scottish Government that any current policy or practice relating to Named Person services outside of the provisions of the Act would not be affected. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and other partners as the Named Person framework is further developed.

NMC spokesperson said: “All nurses and midwives must always adhere to the laws and local safeguarding procedures of the country in which they are practising. This is set out in our Code.

“Should the named persons framework set out in the Act take effect in the future, then nurses and midwives must continue to uphold the standards set out in our Code which also include standards on an individual’s right to privacy and confidentiality, prioritising people, raising concerns, and practising within ones competence.”

The NMC regulates nurses and midwives who work in a variety of roles with varying scopes of practice. The requirements of those roles will vary between employers, but all nurses and midwives must abide by the Code regardless of their scope of practice. This will continue to be the case.

Please see section five of the Code below, which outlines the responsibilities of nurses and midwives in respect of privacy and confidentiality.

5. Respect people’s right to privacy and confidentiality

As a nurse or midwife, you owe a duty of confidentiality to all those who are receiving care. This includes making sure that they are informed about their care and that information about them is shared appropriately.

To achieve this, you must:

5.1 respect a person’s right to privacy in all aspects of their care

5.2 make sure that people are informed about how and why information is used and shared by those who will be providing care

5.3 respect that a person’s right to privacy and confidentiality continues after they have died

5.4 share necessary information with other healthcare professionals and agencies only when the interests of patient safety and public protection override the need for confidentiality, and

5.5 share with people, their families and their carers, as far as the law allows, the information they want or need to know about their health, care and ongoing treatment sensitively and in a way they can understand.

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