SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
The first section of this Guidance relates to children placed in foster care or residential care, the second section applies to all Looked After Children and the third section applies to all children.
Before a child is placed in a foster care or residential care, consent should be obtained wherever possible, usually from the Parent, or a person with Parental Responsibility, for the following:
Such consent is normally given, in writing, when completing a Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record). However, consent does not have to be given in writing.
If verbal consent is given, it should be noted on the record and countersigned by the person completing the record.
When the Parent or person with Parental Responsibility gives consent, it should be understood that children aged sixteen and over, and others under that age who have sufficient understanding, may override the consent in some circumstances. This is explained below.
Children who have reached their sixteenth birthday are regarded in law as capable of giving or refusing to give their consent to medical examination or treatment and any such action without their consent may be held in law to be an assault. In an emergency, when urgent medical treatment is required but no prior consent has been given and it is impossible to locate Parents or a person with Parental responsibility, the following may apply:
Steps should always be taken to promote decision-making on the part of children and to ensure their views and wishes are obtained, considered and accounted for. To this end, children should be encouraged to seek advice or treatment (including dental care and contraceptive advice) from medical or other healthcare practitioners after discussing matters of concern with their Social Worker, those looking after them and, if possible, their Parent(s).
However, it is recognised that this may not always be possible; and that children may wish to seek advice or treatment without reference to Parent(s) or those responsible for them, or they may decide to limit the information or consultation.
Where such a situation occurs, it should be treated with care and sensitivity; within the overall context of the duty to promote and protect the welfare of the child.
Children who have reached the age of sixteen can seek the advice of a medical practitioner without referral to or the consent of Parent(s) or those with Parental Responsibility and may decide to keep that advice and any subsequent treatment confidential. In such circumstances, they may share certain information with Staff or Carers - and may request that it is only shared with specified, other people. Such requests should be respected, unless to do so would place the child or others at risk of injury or harm.
Children who have yet to reach the age of sixteen should be treated in a manner consistent with their age and level of understanding. If possible, their wishes should be respected, but all reasonable steps should be taken to encourage them to discuss concerns with their Parent(s), or a close relative. They should also be encouraged to consult their Social Worker or another responsible person, such as a Staff member or foster Carer.
However, if children refuse to consult their Parents or others and they appear to have made a reasoned decision that is not likely to place them at risk of injury or harm, they should be supported in that decision; and any request for information to be kept in confidence should be respected. Once the arrangements have been made for a child to see a medical practitioner, the child can request that they do so unaccompanied; such a request should be respected.Whilst it may be unusual for a doctor or other health care professional to provide advice or treatment to a child under sixteen without Parental knowledge or advice, they can do so if they believe the child is of an age and level of understanding to understand the implications of the decision they are taking.
They may also do so if they are satisfied that to share the information with Parent(s) or Carers may place the child at risk.
Decisions about whether to provide advice or treatment without consent or consulting Parent(s) or Carers are for a practitioner's clinical judgement.
Only valid for 48hrs