Doctors to Raise Child Abuse Alarm

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Doctors have been told to report concerns about child abuse to the General Medical Council. The GMC claims that high-profile cases where doctors have been accused of giving misleading evidence in child protection cases and a fear of complaints by parents were preventing doctors from raising the alarm.

The GMC will issue new guidance highlighting the need for doctors to assess the risk of child abuse in every case they see. It will explain when it is appropriate for doctors to share information about patients and will give medical professionals the confidence to act when they need to.

The guidance builds on an existing policy published six years ago and has been produced after a two-year review. It was partly driven by claims that opportunities were missed to help 17-month-old Peter Connelly, or “Baby P”, who died in August 2007 after months of abuse.

The GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said child protection was a “complex and emotionally challenging” area of work for doctors” and that “doctors who make child protection decisions based on the guidance will be able to justify their actions if a complaint is made against them”. Dr Amanda Thomas, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the guidance would provide a “valuable framework”.

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