Archive for April 18th, 2012

April 18, 2012

Striking the Balance – Guidance for Caldicott Guardians about MARAC

I can’t count how many times we have been asked about what information health practitioners can share at a MARAC meeting.  There have been real variations in practice around the country but now this could all change.  Perhaps not exciting for everyone, but for the hardened MARAC anoraks (not sure that sounds very pleasant) the news that the Dept of Health has published guidance for all Caldicott Guardians about what information they can and cannot share with a MARAC is really important.  We cannot stress enough the importance of the contribution of health practitioners to a MARAC and it is essential that they are able to act with confidence in this setting.  You can find it here Striking the Balance: Practical Guidance on the application of Caldicott Guardian Principles to Domestic Violence and MARACs

We are glad to have been able to contribute to the guidance and really hope it will help all of you who work with MARACs.  It can now sit with the guidance for the other former information sharing riddle, namely requests for disclosure from the Family Courts.  It reflects lots of dedication from Chris Fincken, until recently Chair of the Caldicott Guardian Council who wrote the guidance and attended his local MARAC for several years.

April 18, 2012

You call it a U-turn. I call it Common Sense.

So Ken Clarke announced a ‘U turn’ last night in relation to the eligibility of victims of domestic abuse to Legal Aid in private law cases.  Common sense prevailed and a statement from a GP that someone has experienced domestic abuse will now be acceptable evidence, as will evidence that a woman has been to refuge.  We can fret about awareness among GP’s about domestic abuse – but it is certainly a material step in the right direction.

Equally importantly, the time period within which this ‘new’ evidence (along with a criminal investigation, MARAC case or injunction) will be acceptable has been extended from one year to two years.  Again, we can all think of cases where several years later abuse is still continuing and where facing an abusive partner in court could be both terrifying and dangerous – but it is better than Plan A.

Which just leaves us worrying about those children in private law cases where perhaps parents have mental health or other issues which prevent them representing themselves properly.  What happened to common sense there?