The work of health professionals in child protection is being
hindered by changing working practices, fear of litigation and poor
In England, vital information held by health visitors on children
who may have been abused is not being filtered through to GPs
because increasingly they are not based in doctors’
Dr John Chisholm, chairperson of the British Medical Association’s
GP Committee, said the Sure Start programme in particular was
taking health visitors away from surgeries, and warned this could
have “dangerous” consequences for child welfare.
Meanwhile, a study by the Royal College of Nursing has found that
health staff are failing to report child abuse because of the fear
of litigation if they make a mistake.
A study of 431 nurses, doctors and dentists in Northern Ireland
found that doctors had seen a greater number of child abuse cases,
but nurses were most likely to report concerns.
Dentists were least likely to take action and only 38 per cent said
they were aware of the process involved in reporting suspected
In Wales, the first audit of child protection in the NHS has found
that not all staff who came into contact with children had been
properly trained or vetted.
Welsh assembly health and social services minister Jane Hutt, who
commissioned the audit by the Commission for Health Improvement,
said child protection procedures across Wales needed to be as
robust as possible. She said the NHS had a key role to play in
detecting and preventing child abuse.