Working with doctors Working for patients

Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors

About the guidance

This guidance sets out the child protection responsibilities of all doctors. It includes advice on:

  • identifying children and young people at risk of, or suffering, abuse or neglect
  • meeting the communication needs of children, young people and parents
  • confidentiality and sharing information
  • child protection examinations
  • giving evidence in court.

Use the tabs below to

  • read the guidance;
  • see how the principles in this guidance apply in situations doctors often encounter or find hard to deal with;
  • access short guides and
  • read about how we developed the guidance.

Protecting children and young people

You can use the online version or the headings on the left to find the guidance you need quickly and easily.

You can navigate through the guidance page by page using the links at the foot of each page or browse for something more specific through the contents page, or open a pdf version of Protecting Children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors (pdf).

Short guides

These short guides highlight the sections of the guidance that are most likely to be relevant to GPs and doctors who treat adult patients. You can access these guides by clicking on the links below to open a pdf

Please Note

These short guides are not intended to replace Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors or any other GMC guidance. To view the full guidance please click on the link below

back to menu

Supporting materials

Flow Chart

This flow chart (pdf), has been developed to highlight the various steps a doctor might take in trying to decide whether to share information about a child or young person who may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

Fact sheet: legislation

This fact sheet (pdf), provides links to key pieces of legislation, case law and procedure rules relevant to child protection. It also covers giving evidence in court in cases involving children.

Information sheet for parents

This information sheet (pdf) is intended to give parents an understanding of what to expect if a doctor is worried about their child’s safety. It also lists other sources of guidance and support that parents may wish to access.

If you need this information in a language other than English please click on the link below :

 

back to menu

Case studies

Case studies

These case studies highlight and explore some of the principles covered in Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors. We hope that they will help doctors and others to understand how the principles in the guidance apply in practice.

A parent’s lifestyle choice. This case study looks at a doctor assessing whether a parent’s decision about her children’s diet is a child protection concern or not. The parent, Mrs Smith, has put her family on a ‘new healthy eating regime’ which is potentially harmful. Dr Pai shares his concerns with the parent and has to decide what action, if any, he should take next. This case study is intended to illustrate paragraphs 2-12 (identifying children and young people at risk of, or suffering abuse or neglect) and paragraphs 28-51 (confidentiality and sharing information) of Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors.
Families’ cultural and religious practices. This case study focuses on how a doctor in an Accident and Emergency setting assesses whether a young person’s decision to participate in her family’s religious practices is putting her at risk. See how the doctor handles their communication with the parent and young person. This case study is intended to illustrate paragraphs 2-12 (identifying children and young people at risk of, or suffering abuse or neglect) and paragraph 16 (communicating with children and young people) of Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors.
Profoundly deaf patient. This case study focuses on meeting the communication needs of children and young people when discussing child protection concerns. The GP, Dr Abbott, has child protection concerns about her patient Paul who is 16 and profoundly deaf. How does the doctor manage to discuss her concerns directly with Paul? This case study is intended to illustrate paragraphs 13-22 (communication and support) of Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors
Sharing information about a child without the consent of a parent. This case study looks at how a hospital doctor weighs up the risks associated with sharing child protection concerns with a parent. The doctor, Mr Halliday, has concerns about the safety of 5 year old George who has been brought into A & E but finds it very difficult to speak to the parent. Find out what the doctor does next. This case study is intended to illustrate paragraphs 13-22 (communication and support) and paragraphs 28-51 (confidentiality and sharing information ) of Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors.
Parent refuses consent. This case study centres on the issues surrounding the need for a child to be tested for a communicable disease. See what steps Dr Jegede takes to reach a decision when the parent refuses to have her 9 year old daughter tested for HIV. This case study is intended to illustrate paragraphs 28-51 (confidentiality and sharing information) of Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors. You can also see our guidance at paragraphs 12-16 of Confidentiality: disclosing information about serious communicable diseases for more information on what to do if you think a child is at risk of serious harm because their parents refuse to allow them to be tested for a serious communicable disease. For further information on testing children of parents with HIV infections see ‘Don’t Forget the Children’ Guidance for the HIV testing of children with HIV-positive parents (pdf).

Please Note

The case studies are fictional and for illustration purposes only. They provide examples of how the principles in the guidance might be applied in the kinds of situations doctors encounter. Decisions about child protections concerns are among the most difficult doctors have regularly to make, relying on a careful balancing of the factors specific to the case at hand.

These learning materials do not represent GMC guidance or policy in themselves, nor are they intended to replace Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors or any other GMC guidance.

For specific advice you should ask a named or designated professional or lead clinician or if they are not available ask for an experienced colleague.

back to menu

Background

Development of the guidance

You can read more about the development of the guidance (pdf), which explains the process we undertook during the review, and the results of an audit (pdf), undertaken of the process for analysing the responses we received during the consultation.

You can read about the work that was undertaken to inform our understanding of the equality and diversity dimensions of child protection issues as we developed the guidance in our Equality Analysis (pdf).

Oral evidence sessions

As part of an extensive evidence gathering process, prior to drafting the guidance for consultation, we conducted 24 oral evidence sessions in January 2011 with individuals and organisations who shared their experiences and knowledge of child protection. An analysis of the sessions was conducted by Ipsos Mori.

You can read the analysis report (pdf).

Factsheet on the GMC’s fitness to practise procedures

As part of the consultation process, we produced the Factsheet: paediatricians and our fitness to practise procedures explaining how the GMC's fitness to practise procedures work, and how paediatricians are represented within them.

back to menu