Why Include GPs in Wales Database

The Welsh government is currently consulting on a law making it compulsory for Local Health Boards [LHB] and GPs in Wales to notify the local authority about all children between 5 and 16, supplying the name, address, gender and date of birth for each child. As explained here, this amounts to half a million children https://edyourself.org/gp-data-half-a-million-children-wales/

The requirement for GPs to disclose data appears in regulation 4 of the Children Missing Education Database Regulations headed  Local Health Board and GMS contractor duty to disclose. Read more here https://edyourself.org/data-sharing-childrens-database-wales/

GP Contracts

As explained in this leaflet from the BMA [British Medical Association] the majority of GP practices in Wales are run by independent partnerships of GPs contracted by the Health Boards to provide medical services according to the General Medical Services contract (GMS contract)

It is a condition of the contract that GPs must supply up-to-date patient lists to LHBs

SOURCE = The National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Wales) Regulations 2023 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/2023/953/schedule/3/made

For some reason the Welsh government wants GPs to pass the same information to local authorities that they have given to the Local Health Board even though the local authority will already be getting the data directly from the Health Board.

Last time the Welsh government tried to introduce a children’s database, family doctors were not included. Read more here https://edyourself.org/2024-wales-database-compared-with-2020/

Section 29 Children Act 2004

The law behind the database is section 29 of the Children Act 2004 as explained here https://edyourself.org/legal-powers-for-childrens-database-wales/ Section 29 is the equivalent for Wales of section 12 of the Act for England. Section 12 was the legislation for ContactPoint for England which was scrapped in 2010

Section 29(7) lists the people who are required to provide information for the database. S29(7)(a) covers everyone listed in section 28 (1)  These are people or bodies who must make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.” The list includes Local Health Boards but it does not include GPs so the government will have to find a workaround if for whatever reason it specifically wants GPs to share directly with the local authority.

There is a way for the Welsh government to make this happen because section 29(7)(f) gives the government the power to add more categories by way of secondary legislation, namely “a person or body of such other description as the Assembly may by regulations specify”. The Welsh government could use 29(7)(f) to make it compulsory for new categories of people to share children’s details, starting with GPs.

Children’s Rights Impact Assessment

As identified here on February 24th, the Children’s Rights Impact Assessment leaves out any mention of family doctors which could compromise any targeted consultation” with children if based on incomplete or inaccurate information, see screenshots below https://www.gov.wales/childrens-rights-impact-assessment-draft-children-act-2004-children-missing-education-database

Benefits Of GP List

One possible reason for local authorities to get children’s names and addresses directly from GPs as well as from Local Health Boards is that it could be very useful for local councils to know which is the registered GP practice for any school-age child in the area without having to ask the parent, plus identifying those children who don’t appear to be registered with a GP (since they will have school lists to compare)

Another possible reason is that the initial data disclosure will not provide names or contact details for parents, but if the GP practice is known then the local authority will be able to make follow up enquiries with the individual doctors surgery in order to complete the database records.

It would be very helpful if the Welsh government could explain its reasoning for adding GPs.

Public Consultation

There is a consultation on the proposed data sharing which closes on April 25th 2024. It includes a number of questions directed at GPs. The link for the consultation is here https://www.gov.wales/node/59753/respond-online 

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