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Confidentiality in student health and welfare

1. Introduction

This policy is intended for all those involved in student health and welfare, whether as a member of the welfare team or the training staff, for whom confidentiality may be an issue, and is intended to promote greater consistency in the way individual cases are handled. For the purpose of this policy "Health" covers both physical and mental health issues.

2. Legal background

2.1 By virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force on 2 October 2000, the rights protected in the European Convention on Human Rights have been incorporated into English law. Article 8 of the Convention provides a right to respect for private and family life. The Article reads as follows:

2.1.1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2.1.2 There should be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

2.2 Individuals may reasonably expect information given in confidence to be treated in a confidential manner and a failure to respect confidentiality may give rise to a claim in certain circumstances. (Special considerations apply to those aged under 16.)

2.3 The Data Protection Act of 2018 imposes obligations on those holding personal data both as to the purposes for which data may be held and to the persons to whom it may be disclosed, and those obligations are particularly stringent in the case of sensitive personal data (as defined in the Act). Further information is available in the CITB Privacy Policy.

2.4 The Equality Act 2010 requires CITB to treat students with Health matters as they would any other person, and to make reasonable adjustments to policies, practices, and procedures in order to achieve this. This could have implications for confidentiality. It is important to ensure that students are aware that information about their Health may need to be provided to others (i.e. Instructors) in order to meet their particular needs. If, however, a student insists on confidentiality, it may be necessary to inform him or her that it will not be possible to make certain provisions.

3. General principles

Respect for confidentiality

3.1 In general respect for privacy means that matters relating to the health and welfare of individuals must be treated as confidential.

3.2 Those advising students should make it clear at the outset of a discussion whether the content is to be confidential and the extent of the confidentiality to be afforded to any disclosures. In particular they should inform the student of:

3.2.2 the concern on the part CITB to respect privacy, wherever possible; 

3.2.3 but that there are limited circumstances in which information may be shared with a third party, taking account of the duty of care which may be owed to the individual and/or others. 

Notification of health issues

3.3 All prospective and attending students should be encouraged to disclose any Health issues and/or any additional support need that they may require whilst undertaking training with CITB.

3.4 When taking details by telephone, the Course Booking team do ask if there are any additional learning/disability issues that the student feels may require additional assistance whilst at CITB, however, it must be borne in mind that the individual may be reticent in divulging these details, or in the case of a third party booking the booker may be unaware of any such needs.

3.5 All CITB staff having dealings with students should be open to and aware of any student whose behaviour may indicate Health issues, and report any such suspicions to a member of the Welfare team for further assessment at the earliest opportunity. All communications with regards to a student’s health and welfare whether orally or in writing (email) should be conducted in the strictest confidence.

Obtaining consent

3.6 Those involved in advising students should, where possible, seek the consent of the individual for the onward disclosure of relevant information to those with a clear need to know it. Where such consent is not forthcoming, the person entrusted with the information should make it clear that in exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to disclose the information to others in order to facilitate the training requirements.

Disclosure without consent

3.7 There are certain circumstances where a student withholds their consent – or it is impracticable to try to obtain it – when the commitment to confidentiality should be disregarded in the interests of the student, these are:

3.7.1 where there are serious grounds for concern about the student’s mental well- being.

3.7.2 when the student’s health or safety is at risk.

3.7.3 when the student may be at risk of serious abuse or exploitation.

3.7.4 when the student’s behaviour is adversely affecting the rights and safety of others, especially CITB staff and other students.

3.7.5 when the student is infringing CITB Policy or disclosure is required by law.

Contact with families

3.8 If the student is over 18 years of age, it is generally inappropriate to speak to a student's family against the student's wishes. Contact may occasionally be justified in the students' best interests e.g. when a student is at risk of self-harm or suffering from a serious physical illness and the student has been assessed as lacking capacity to make that decision. The decision to do so should be made at the highest level and the student should normally be informed of any such contact.

3.9 Where a student is under 18 years of aged, a parent or legal guardian should be notified immediately upon suspicion of any issues that may be detrimental to the students Health and wellbeing.

All policies and procedures will be made available to any relevant person on request.

Version current as of November 2017

Owner: Curriculum support manager