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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

NHS Trusts urged to share information about suicidal children with families

Written by Jemma Crew

Too many young people are killing themselves because NHS professionals are not sharing information with their families, a charity has warned.

Ged Flynn, chief executive of youth suicide prevention charity Papyrus, has written to the head of every NHS trust in England urging them to encourage staff to share information about vulnerable children and teenagers with families and schools.

The charity said it has heard of "countless" instances where a young person's history of suicidal behaviour was kept from loved ones.

In some cases, permission had been given by the patient to share the information, the charity said.

Mr Flynn (pictured) said that "too often" families only learned of a young person's suicidal behaviours after their death.

Evidence suggests family members are important in ensuring interventions from health professionals are successful.

Mr Flynn's letter urges each NHS trust chief to write to their employees, and back them if they decide to share information about a patient to keep them safe from suicide.

He said: "Papyrus believes that every NHS trust chief executive can change the culture of a frightened workforce, often scared by a misguided understanding of protecting data.

"Rather, sharing information can protect life. NHS bosses can help us to save young lives by empowering staff to make professional judgments, without prejudice or fear of litigation, and based on the best interest of the patient."

Around 1,600 10 to 34-year-olds take their lives in the UK each year, the charity said.

A "significant number" were known to primary care and visited a GP in the months before their death, it added.

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