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Revealing the identity of NHS staff: what is in a name?
  1. Robert Wheeler
  1. Paediatric Surgery, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Wheeler, Paediatric Surgery, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK; robert.wheeler{at}uhs.nhs.uk

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For some years, judges have, during High Court proceedings relating to the end of a child’s life, made orders prohibiting the naming of clinicians who have been involved in the child’s care and treatment.

The order, known as a Reporting Restriction Order (RRO, ‘freezing order’), may or may not extend for a short period following the child’s death.

In June 2021, the High Court heard two joined cases1 where parents sought to question whether the court had the authority to keep in place the RROs made during the proceedings that had concerned their respective children. In both cases, their children had subsequently died.

The RROs had both been widely drawn with either the consent of, or without opposition from, the children’s parents. Each of them was of unlimited duration with no expiry date. Both purported to cover all staff who ‘…had played any part in the provision of care or treatment to the child’ and were employed by the relevant NHS Trust.

Coincidentally, both families made their application to be released from the RRO on similar dates; thus with agreement (since the legal issues were so similar), the cases were being heard together.

Each family sought immediate release from the RRO so that ‘…they could speak publicly about their experiences and, in doing so, be free to identify NHS staff who were involved in caring for their child’. Neither family revealed to the court the identity of whom they would seek to name or, other …

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Footnotes

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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