A patient wants to alter their name

Business Dilemmas

Dr Kathryn Leask

What do you do if a patient decides to change their name by deed poll? Dr Kathryn Leask answers a private GP’s question.





Dilemma 1

Can I accept this deed poll paper?

Q I am a private GP and have been asked by a patient to change the name on their records. 

They have provided me with a copy of ‘Deed of Change Name (Deed Poll)’ document, which they have made themself. 

Is there any other action I need to take and can I accept this document in order to change the name on their records? 

A Any person over the age of 16 who has capacity can make their own deed poll and wording is available at the Government website www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll. 

The deed poll should be witnessed, but there is no stipulation on who can act as a witness. Some organisations, such as a bank, may need an ‘enrolled’ deed poll. 

Civica Medical Billing

Public record

Those over 18 years can enrol a deed poll with the King’s Bench Division of the Royal Courts of Justice so that their new name is on public record. 

It is for individual organisations to decide whether they require an enrolled deed poll as proof of a name change. 

For those under the age of 18, an unenrolled deed poll can be made using a specialist deed poll agency or a solicitor or they can apply for an enrolled deed poll from the courts. 

Those who are 16 and 17 can make their own unenrolled deed poll; however, if they need an enrolled deed poll, the young person will either need agreement from everyone with parental responsibility or a court order.

Where an enrolled deed poll is used, the new name will usually appear on public record in The Gazette.

It is for your practice to decide, therefore, whether your procedure for changing a patient’s name requires an enrolled deed poll or whether an unenrolled deed poll is acceptable. 

Dr Kathryn Leask is a medico-legal adviser at the Medical Defence Union (MDU)

Trapped in parents’ fight about vaccines

Dr Kathryn Leask

Vaccinating a child leads to a disagreement between the parents – and the doctor is the piggy in the middle. Dr Kathryn Leask advises on what to do.





Dilemma 2

Can one parent give OK for jab?

Q I am a private paediatrician and am due to give a patient their pre-school boosters. 

The child’s mother has provided her consent for the vaccinations to go ahead. 

However, I have received a letter from the child’s father objecting to the vaccinations and saying he does not provide his consent. 

My understanding is that I only need consent from one parent to provide treatment but wasn’t sure whether this also applied to vaccinations.

A While consent from one person with parental responsibility is usually sufficient (section 2[7] of the Children Act 1989), there are some situations where having consent from all those with parental responsibility is recommended. 

This can include non-therapeutic procedures such as circumcisions for religious reasons and immunisations. 

The Green Book states that if one parent agrees but another disagrees, the immunisation should not be carried out until both parents can agree or there is a specific court approval that the immunisation is in the child’s best interests. 

It may be helpful to speak to both parents, particularly the father, to establish what their concerns are to see if you can resolve these. 

Discussing the potential risks as compared to the potential benefits of the vaccine may help to reassure the parents as to what is in the child’s best interests. 

Particular concerns

This will give you an opportunity to establish whether the father has any particular concerns which you would not other be aware of. 

If, after discussion, the father agrees to the vaccination, this should be documented in the notes, and it may be prudent to obtain written consent. 

If the parents continue to disagree, either can make an application to the court under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for a special issue order. It will be for the court to decide on how the issue should be resolved.

If you felt the child was particularly vulnerable if left unvaccinated while the parents decided on the course of action, it may be appropriate to discuss this with your local child safeguarding lead to see whether a court order in favour of vaccination can be obtained. 

If you were to do this, you should keep the parents informed.