Two-thirds of NHS trusts are failing to check whether children admitted to accident and emergency wards are on the at-risk register, according to the Conservatives.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed many hospital workers were confused over procedures, and only one in seven hospitals could make online checks.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said it was unacceptable that some hospitals were unable to find out whether an injured child was subject to a protection plan.
He called child protection arrangements overseen by the Labour government “clearly confused”.
In total, 120 hospital trusts in England responded to the request. The results also showed one in 10 health professionals in A&E wards had not received adequate child protection training.
The Conservatives cited evidence from the joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey, north London, where Baby P died in 2007. This showed that procedures were not being followed by A&E staff, some of whom were unsure how to check the local authority’s child protection register.
Lansley added: “Many hospitals are getting incoherent messages about what to do to prevent tragedies like the Baby P case from happening again.”
Health minister Ben Bradshaw said there were “clear rules on child protection” which all NHS trusts must follow. These included arrangements for checking whether a child was subject to a child protection plan and mandatory training for staff.
However, Bradshaw said it would be “unnecessary” to routinely check whether every child admitted to A&E was on the child protection register.
He added that the government had asked the Healthcare Commission to conduct a review of child protection in the NHS, and would act on any recommendations it makes.
Expert guide to Baby P