Maternal 'suicide risk' in shared access to records

Giving social workers access to GP records could put young mothers at risk of suicide, a charity has claimed.

Jean Robinson, a researcher at the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, said that social workers 'don't understand medical diagnoses but act as if they do'.

She cited the treatment of women with post-natal depression, whose children are sometimes removed for their own protection, 'despite the fact that the chances of the mother killing herself are much greater'.

An 'absolutely unscrupulous' minority would trawl the database looking for families to investigate, she said. Some parents were so concerned about agencies sharing data with social workers they have stopped using the NHS altogether.

'I've had calls from families who are afraid to go to A&E,' she said. 'The child has to be practically dying. Social workers just don't know how to interpret other people's data or put it in context,' she added.

But Janet Foulds, of the British Association of Social Workers, said she found Ms Robinson's allegations 'offensive'. She added that social care staff would consult with GPs on how to interpret data.

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