Sector heads urge rethink on child protection commissioning

Social care sector leaders are lobbying the Department of Health to include specific child protection amendments to health secretary Andrew Lansley's (pictured) White Paper going through parliament, Community Care has learned.

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Social care sector leaders are lobbying the Department of Health to include specific child protection amendments to the health White Paper going through parliament, Community Care has learned.

Concern was raised over the failure of the original White Paper on NHS reforms to clarify where accountability for child protection would lie within the health service in future.

The White Paper proposes abolishing primary care trusts, all of which have a designated child protection lead. They would be replaced by groups of commissioning GPs (GP consortia) to commission all health services within an area. Public health responsibilities would be carried out by new “health and well-being boards” under local authority control.

Community Care understands that health and social care leaders are organising a campaign to ensure child protection commissioning will not lie with GP consortia, but with the proposed health and well-being boards. With the dismantling of the legal requirements of children’s trusts, it could open the way for local children safeguarding boards to become part of the health and well-being boards, they say.

One source said the moves were to ensure that the issue of child protection was considered by health professionals who may not see it as a priority. GPs have, in the past, shown reluctance to engage in child protection issues.

The source added that the group also felt it was important to retain the requirement for a named professional within delivery agencies.

Other sources said there were continuing concerns about the differences between local authority boundaries and those of proposed GP consortia. The consortia may cover areas encompassing more than one local authority, complicating joined-up working between health and social care professionals.

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