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 Post subject: Can school divulge info?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:04 pm 
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My 5yo daughter has had multiple health issues, mainly due to low immunity, which to those familiar, are not 'contagious' illnesses, but related to bacteria travelling beyond the realms of where they normally would. Last week she was admitted to hospital with sepsis, quite sudden and urgent, was related to an undetected UTI. I emailed school during the night to say she would not be in that morning. The following day I had an email from an anxious class mum whom I don't know very well, asking what exactly my DD had, as she was having treatment that affected her immunity. Apart from being surprised, I was a little annoyed to receive this, as at the time, DD was in a serious condition, and the email was a little...well, demanding! Is it usual for schools to divulge information like this? On the back of that 'personal' email, I had queries from all and sundry, and most of them were along the lines of my daughter having something akin to leprosy! I explained to this mum that she was no more likely to catch a bug from my child as she was from hers, but it's the principle that bothers me. What do others think?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:12 pm 
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Hope your dd is much better. Do you know how this other mother found out?

I would not have thought the school is supposed to divulge information other than to give an anonymous warning about things which do need a warning e.g.mumps, German measles, nits etc!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:33 pm 
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Yes that was my understanding too...but the school sec having seen my email to the HT, went and told this particular mum. My child doesn't even play with hers, we don't ever have contact beyond a cursory nod!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:50 pm 
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Ah so it sounds as though the secretary was misguided but was really trying her best to make sure the other child with compromised immunity was not put at what she thought might be a risk.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:48 am 
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I think you have every right to be cross! My understanding is that the school should inform parents if more than a few cases of infectious disease have occurred, e.g.. norvovirus (or whatever it was called) but always anonymously.
The Secretary is at fault misguided or not, she should never have divulged information about your child to other parents. The parent is also at fault, if she is seriously immuno suppressed due to treatment then she should remove her children from school, or remove herself ftom her children during treatment. We had a similar parent who's husband was having treatment, but she continued to attend toddler group and then moan about the potential spread of infection.
My husband's friend is having treatment that seriously suppressed his immunity and he has moved to his parents house for a month, it makes good sense really, the kids do not want their dad even more poorly.

I am often on medication that suppresses my immunity, the kids warn me about bugs going around, but often I just have to grin and bear it, knowing it will be twice as horrid for me....eg, the conjunctivitis they shared last month. Occasionally, if they catch something nasty dh will pretty much force me into isolation as best he can within the house, but I do still sometimes end up in hospital.
I would never ever behave as the parent did, she may be in panic mode, but should still be a little more sensitive.

I hope your little girl feels a lot better and has a lovely summer holiday.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:05 am 
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I hope your daughter continues to improve :)

re the secretary - yes, misguided but TBH I would be incandescent over it.

As a school secretary she must be privy to health information about pupils, their parents and staff ... it should be treated as privileged and certainly not broadcast to all and sundry. Such an action in the health service would lead to sacking and TBH the rules governing that are the same as anyone handling sensitive info as part of their job..

I know the call from the friend came at a bad time but I would be tempted to say "oh not too serious really, the chaps with the white suits have gone now and say it is OK so long as everyone is sprayed down before they leave the house".


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:04 am 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Totally agree with Herman that the breach of confidentiality and of data protection are not acceptable. Did this other mum already have your contact details or was your e-mail address passed on as well?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:40 am 
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I do agree it is absolutely wrong. I wasn't meaning to condone it - and the secretary concerned needs to be trained/retrained in this particular aspect of the role.

Sometimes our school office uses volunteers too ----- I don't think anyone would necessarily realise that they are not being paid though, and I don't know if they have the training to know what to do / not do with confidential data. Also, stuff just lies around in view quite a bit in various parts of the school.

I'm not saying it's right at all, and you should be clear that it is not acceptable and get an apology from the school. But, it does seem to me that once a child is at school potentially nothing is "confidential" in the way that on might hope - particularly as the children themselves tell one another "secrets" which are then shared on a "needs to know" basis and everyone needs to know!

If one had a real need to be completely safe e.g. a past victim of domestic violence trying to keep their whereabouts unknown, you would have to pick your school extremely carefully.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:15 am 
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Thanks, I like the white coats comment, wish I'd thought of that! The school secretary works alone, small school, she opens the HT correspondence & generally acts as the office manager, and is definitely paid! I don't want to make a fuss, and yes, things do get around like you say, but we had told nobody but the school, and by 10am that morning, at a time when our daughter's wellbeing was causing us huge concern, to receive a message from someone I don't really know, that was marked '**Urgent..."just been told by x that your dd is in hospital, can you let me know what she has as I have no immunity and need to know for obvious reasons. Let me know asap" I was just so surprised, and rather irritated by it to be honest. Like you say, if she was that concerned, then why loiter around a kid's playground at all?! All seems so wrong. We have a contact list for the class, so contact details are easy to find, just seems wrong we should be privy to everything else too!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:07 pm 
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It is, I agree, very odd. If the secretary had felt she really did have to act in some way in this other woman's interest, the more sensible thing would have been to approach you and say that there was another mother who really needed reassurance that this was nothing that could compromise her health, or needed to know what it was so that, with some clues, the right antibiotic could be found faster for her if she did fall prey to it.

This would then have left it up to you to approach the mother if you felt willing and able.

I hope your DD is much better.

I wouldn't really know what to do if I were you. Best to say something I think. She's clearly not great at thinking on her feet (too quick perhaps!) and this might make her think twice in a similar situation.


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