GDPR consent for safeguarding/ making safeguarding personal

Ever since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018 (and even before to an extent), consent has been a hot topic with regard to safeguarding adults. Do we need consent to make a safeguarding adults referral? Do we need consent to share information with partners? How does an adult withdraw their consent?

As a result of this, we addressed consent in the most recent review of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Adults Procedure for Raising a Concern and Referring but thought it may be useful to highlight again the rules around consent and information sharing.

Consent and information sharing

Taking advice from NSAB’s legal adviser, the rules on consent and information sharing are linked to relevant legislation:
- GDPR
- Data Protection Act 2018
- Care Act 2014
- Care and Support Statutory Guidance

These pieces of legislation helped to make it clear that consent is not required in most circumstances.

The GDPR made it clear that we should use other legislation where it applies and can be used. (For instance, the Care Act 2014).

The Care Act statutory guidance  (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/care-act-statutory-guidance/care-and-support-statutory-guidance#safeguarding-1) states that:

  • ‘14.43…If a professional has concerns about the adult’s welfare and believes they are suffering or likely to suffer abuse or neglect, then they should share the information with the local authority and, or, the police if they believe or suspect that a crime has been committed.’

This guidance further strengthens the duty to pass on concerns.

In each case where we are keeping or sharing information, we should clearly justify the rationale for keeping and sharing information and have clear record retention timescales (and stick to them!)

One thing we must be aware of as professionals is that when information is gathered from non-professionals such as witnesses or relatives, it is important that, if their personal data (e.g.name and address) will be included in the referral, those people are informed that their details may be shared with other bodies. Unless, to do so would jeopardise the safety of the adult at risk or others.

In the recent review of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Adults Procedure for Raising a Concern and Referring, we have highlighted situations where consent does not need to be sought.

Consent is NOT required when:

  • Other people, including other adults at risk and or children, could be at risk from the person causing harm
  • It is necessary to prevent crime, or a serious crime has been committed
  • You believe that the adult at risk is being coerced or fearful of repercussions
  • If there is an overriding public interest
  • There is reason to believe that their health and/or well-being will be adversely affected by ongoing harm or abuse
  • The person posing a risk also has care and support needs and may also be at risk

Therefore, this has all meant that we can offer the following guidance…

We should NOT seek consent as doing so means we have to give people an opportunity to withdraw it – instead, we should be having a conversation with people to inform them and explain the reasons why we are sharing the information

Action for readers:

Read the procedures online at www.safeguardingadultsnotts.org and remember not to seek consent unless one of the situations named above does not apply.

19 August 2019:15:42