Emergency Care of Children and Young People by Karen Cleaver, Janet Webb

By Karen Cleaver, Janet Webb

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Indeed, unless the reason for Tracey’s overdose is resolved, she may repeat the behaviour, but hide the fact for fear of punishment, thus putting her at greater risk. In considering the right of the staff to administer this punishment, those charged with the care of children are not allowed to engage in physical punishment. Venepuncture without anaesthetic cream in this circumstance is clearly a physical punishment and therefore not permitted. It is the intention behind the choice not to use anaesthetic cream in this case that is the problem.

Mrs Victoria Gillick, a Roman Catholic with five daughters, became concerned because, in the drive to reduce teenage pregnancies, the Department of Health and Social Security issued guidance stating that in some circumstances it would be lawful for GPs and family planning clinics to give contraceptive advice to sexually active young people under the age of 16, and in some cases prescribe the contraceptive pill, without the knowledge or consent of the parents (Dimond 2005). Mrs Gillick decided to challenge this guidance although none of her daughters was seeking such advice at the time.

There are two possible twists to this type of scenario. First, Peter’s parents may hold the same beliefs as Peter and refuse consent. In this case, the above actions could be taken in the same way. Secondly, the parents may hold these beliefs and refuse consent but Peter may not share his parents’ beliefs and may consent himself. In this case, his consent would be valid. The second circumstance where the nurse may need to respect the rights enshrined in this Article of the Act is when a child and family may need to practise a ritual of their belief system as part of the process of caring for the sick child.

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