Resource to advise on information sharing and suicide prevention

August 26, 2021

The SHARE Guide, prepared by the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA), with support from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I), is designed to expand upon and enhance the DHSC Consensus Statement.

The 2014 Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) Information Sharing and Suicide Prevention – Consensus Statement, prepared in collaboration with multiple organisations and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group (NSPSAG), sought to highlight the theme of information sharing and strengthen its associated guidelines, both for those at risk from self-harm and suicide and those close to them.

The new SHARE resource is designed to support health and social care staff on:

  • How to use the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) Consensus Statement for information sharing and suicide prevention.
  • How to engage with patients when discussing confidentiality and consent to share information.

The SHARE definition:

Seek consent to share information.

Have regard to the law, rules and regulations.

Always act in the patients’ best interest.

Record all discussions and activities.

Ensure service user confidentiality is respected.

Steve Mallen, Co-Founder, Zero Suicide Alliance, said, ‘As a father bereaved by suicide, I am acutely aware of the importance of seeking consent, respecting confidentiality and sharing information with families, carers and
significant others in mental healthcare and suicide prevention. Despite considerable innovation within the healthcare sector, both routine and best practice in this complex yet crucially important aspect of healthcare is all too frequently overlooked or poorly applied.

'This SHARE Guide is designed to assist all healthcare practitioners and service user facing personnel in adopting best practice within the limitations of the appropriate legislation, rules and regulations. Properly applied, this Guide will produce better patient outcomes and save lives.’

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Consensus Statement sets out how and when clinicians should share information about patients, within the legal framework, where this may help prevent suicide. The BGo ZSA SHARE resource should be read alongside the Consensus Statement.

The DHSC Statement, now augmented by this ZSA resource, does not therefore seek to change existing guidelines and methods. Rather, these resources are designed to promote the lawful sharing of relevant information and the amplification of professional judgement within the current regulatory and best practice environment. This is under the precept that it is commonly better to seek consent to share information than not.

Sharon Allison, Partner, Ashtons Legal, said, ‘Against a backdrop of two decades of reviews of Serious Incident Reports, representing families at Inquests and subsequent civil actions, the single most common theme arising from such tragic and unimaginable loss is that of consent, confidentiality and sharing of information. Having clear guidance, which in part is derived from the learning achieved through tragedy, to help practitioners make difficult and challenging decisions is invaluable and is another clear step towards greater patient safety.’

Visit the UK Government website to read the SHARE resource in full.

The British Geriatrics Society launches Right time, right place: Urgent community-based care for older people - a new report that aims to help health professionals to navigate the options for providing urgent care to older people.

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