Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Information Sharing"

Further on the Eunice Spry case, we hear from the BBC that

"Although these children were seen by many different professionals, few were a consistent presence. Information was not shared so that it was impossible for anyone to have a clear picture. As a result of the Victoria Climbie inquiry, one of the significant safeguards now in place is the requirement for agencies to work far more closely together and for information to be shared."

Hmm. So what we are made to think is that information sharing is the answer here but would information sharing really have saved the children? Is it really the answer? It has become the shibboleth of today, I agree, but why is this so? Is there any hard evidence for it? Our suspicions may be aroused when we hear that the government were eager to press through the e-government agenda. Was this anything to do with evidence for the efficacy of information sharing, or could it, just could it have had something to do with commercial interests?

So what is the evidence for the efficacy of information sharing? In an article in the BMJ some time back, (very frustratingly I cannot find this on-line, and am off to look in paper copies), I distinctly recall reading that information sharing was far from the automatic answer to these kinds of problems. Indeed it was often found to actually mitigate against finding an effective solution, for the reason that everyone, in sharing information, could happily get in on the business of passing the buck.

The answer proposed in the BMJ, and which I remember being an principle of good practice in the not so distant past, was that a trusted, known, consistent individual could be on site to provide consistent, insightful support. What does being trusted entail? Well, it means establishing a proper, on-going relationship and it means that the professional doesn't breach confidentiality, which brings us to the next problem with "information sharing".

What does the euphemism "information to be shared" actually mean in practice? It means that every time you see a professional, that that professional not only can, but it seems has a duty to report widely anything about you that they decide is relevant. How does that make you feel?

We know of one home educating family, who do very well thank you and who have no reason to think that they are letting their children down at all, who spent a significant chunk of yesterday hiding in another part of the building whilst a friend who was staying with them was visited by a community midwife. All professionals should know that this is the sort of implication of information sharing. They will not have information to share.


Dave Hill said...

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33, 452 said...

"All professionals should know that this is the sort of implication of information sharing. They will not have information to share."

Now *that* is a very good point!