From August, every child in Scotland will be assigned a Named Person, usually a health visitor or teacher, to oversee their wellbeing until they turn 18.
Although the scheme does not yet have statutory backing, it has already been rolled out in many areas including Highland, Angus, Ayrshire and Fife.
One mother in Highland council area has described how she was called by Childsmile after her 15-year old son cancelled his dental appointment due to illness.Despite a new visit having been booked, she was warned that her son’s Named Person would be informed if it was missed and was quizzed about any issues that “might need to be resolved”.Since young people over the age of 12 are generally deemed competent to give or decline consent for medical and dental treatment, she was angry about the breach of her son’s right to confidentiality.
The mother – who asked not to be named – said: “I had never heard of Childsmile, but they are also chasing my daughter who is about to turn 17 and is more than entitled to make her own decisions about treatment.
“My son is not happy and wants to be removed from the dentist’s list, but we live in a remote area and there is little choice.”
A father from Fife said his family had moved to a different dental practice after a missed appointment, which had been made for their child without telling them, was reported to the Named Person.
Another Highland parent was quizzed by her nine-year old son’s teacher after her dentist alerted the school over a forgotten appointment without contacting her first.The mother of a two-year old has meanwhile been informed by her dentist that her child has been booked in for fluoride varnishing, presuming her consent to the procedure.Even the Childsmile website confirms it is not without risks and warns of an adverse reaction to the varnish due to asthma or other conditions.
Nevertheless, she worries that her decision to decline the fluoride treatment will trigger a report to the Named Person and plans to quit the practice for a private provider.
All of the parents are members of an online home education forum and gave consent for their comments to be used.
Simon Calvert of the NO2NP campaign, a coalition of charities and individuals which opposes the legislation, said it was just one example of the widespread sharing of medical data.
He said: “Our NHS is based around the principles of consent and confidentiality, which are still considered sacrosanct.
“Everyone expects their health records to be kept confidential, unless there is a risk of significant harm to a child, but the Government has legislated for a scheme that allows access to whole-family medical records by Named Persons on the basis of a subjective wellbeing concern.
“Now it seems that missing a dental appointment is enough to trigger an alert to a Government agency and the Named Person, even for young people who are deemed competent to refuse their entitlement to treatment and should have their patient confidentiality respected.”A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “Parents do not need to engage with the Childsmile programme. They can decide not to take their children to a NHS dentist and decide not to participate in the programme at any time. Information can be removed from a database at any point on request.
“Regarding missed dental appointments, currently NHS Highland’s ‘child not brought to appointments’ procedure would be referred to appropriate persons/agencies contacted if there were child welfare/concern issues.
“Dental staff may contact patients above the age of 12 regarding broken appointments, with appropriate consent. Childsmile activity will be limited to children under 12 years of age.
“There are very few private only dentists in the Highland region, most dentists mix NHS and private dental practices. Private only dentists are not involved directly in Childsmile activities.”
*Original article online at https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/683412/NHS-dentist-conscripted-SNP-army-state-snoopers
Note from FAN:
For a further understanding of the Scottish Childsmile program, which was created because of the Scottish Executive’s decision not to fluoridate, go to http://fluoridealert.org/content/childsmile/