Bringing concerns about child abuse into the open
In our new draft guidance, we argue that doctors should tell parents and young people as soon as possible if they suspect abuse or neglect.
The guidance on child protection also makes clear that every doctor has a responsibility to protect children, even if they are only treating parents for a condition that could affect their ability to care for a child.
We want your views on whether we have got our guidance for doctors on this difficult and sensitive area right.
‘This is a very complex area of practice, but this new guidance aims to provide clarity to all doctors about what they should do to protect children, even if they are uncertain about whether a child is at risk,’ said Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC. ‘We hope this will give doctors further confidence to make often very difficult decisions to keep children safe from harm.’
Why are we producing guidance on child protection?
We want doctors to feel confident in raising and acting on concerns about the safety and welfare of vulnerable children. Paediatricians in particular had raised concerns with us about the difficulties of working in child protection, including the risk of parents complaining about doctors’ decisions.
The guidance aims to address those issues by providing clear and detailed advice on how to deal with concerns about the abuse or neglect of children and young people. It includes a foreword making clear that when doctors follow the principles in this guidance, they will not be subject to censure by the GMC.
We have not produced the guidance because we believe there is a problem with paediatricians or any other doctors involved in child protection providing safe and effective care.
What does the guidance cover?
The draft guidance covers a range of important issues from identifying children and young people who may be at risk of abuse or neglect to how to give evidence about suspected abuse in court or when to share information about suspected abuse.
Other key issues include the importance of working closely and effectively with other professionals involved in child protection and the benefits of good and constructive communication with parents and carers.
Where can I read and comment on the guidance?
You can read and comment on the guidance on our child protection consultation web pages.We will be consulting until 14 October 2011 and will publish final guidance in early 2012.
Who has been involved in drafting the guidance?
The draft guidance has been developed by a working group chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe and including paediatricians, a GP, a psychiatrist, social care professionals and advocates for children and young people.
More than 200 individuals and organisations involved in child protection helped to shape the guidance by supplying written responses to an initial call for evidence. The working group also held 24 oral evidence sessions.