The College of Optometrists

Disclosing information about children

You must seek the consent of a child who has the capacity to consent before you share any confidential information about them. See section on Consent.
You may discuss matters regarding a child who does not have the capacity to consent with someone with parental responsibility. See section on Consent.
A parent who does not have parental responsibility for a child does not have an automatic right of access to confidential information.
Not all parents have parental responsibility. If the parents were married at or after the child’s conception, both will have parental responsibility, even if they have later divorced. For unmarried parents, both will have parental responsibility if they are named on the child’s birth certificate and the child was born on or after:
  • 1 December 2003 in England and Wales
  • 15 April 2002 in Northern Ireland, and
  • 4 May 2006 in Scotland.
You should take the following steps to clarify parental responsibility and information sharing:
  1. note in the child’s record the name of the person who accompanies the child
  2. try to ascertain whether the person has parental responsibility
  3. if the person does not have parental responsibility you will need to decide whether the person can provide effective authority to proceed. If in any doubt, consult your professional or representative body.
If anyone else asks for information about the child (this can include the other parent without parental responsibility) you should direct them to the responsible person with whom you have already shared information.

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