Health professionals do not see child protection as their
business and regard their role as helping social services, the
final Victoria Climbie inquiry seminar heard, writes
Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, said that the perception among those working in
social care was that both child protection and children in general
came low on the heath service agenda.
“I have example after example of difficulties in getting health
professionals engaged, difficulties in getting them to see the
child rather than the family dynamism and difficulties in getting
them to come to case conferences,” he explained.
He added that it was important that health staff took
responsibility instead of “looking to social services at 4.30 on a
Other members of the panel said the problem went right to the
top of government, and neither the home secretary nor the prime
minister saw child protection as a priority.
Denise Platt, chief inspector of the Social Services
Inspectorate, said she hoped the new children’s national service
framework would make it clear to each agency what its individual
“I think people think their responsibility is to help social
services deal with child protection … but in doing that you can
forget as a particular agency what your own responsibilities
Richard Cooling, clinical director for Sutton and Merton primary
care trust, admitted there has not been a major focus on child
protection among GPs, adding that the amount of training they
received on the subject was “minimal”.
But Dr Maurice Conlon, director of primary care for the NHS
clinical governance support team, said the criticism of health
professionals made him feel “bristly”.
“One of the reasons that clinicians are sometimes inhibited
about referring child health cases across to social services is a
perception – and I would emphasise this is likely in many cases to
be incorrect – but there is a perception or an uncertainty about
what will happen and how secure the process is once it is handed