Child safeguarding an ‘afterthought’ in NHS reforms

Child safeguarding is an ‘afterthought’ in the government’s NHS reforms, according to paediatricians who have warned the safety of children is under threat.

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Child safeguarding is an ‘afterthought’ in the government’s NHS reforms, according to paediatricians who have warned the safety of children is under threat.

A report, published today by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, surveyed 59 paediatricians – responsible for leading on child safeguarding – and found the majority feel current guidance and the NHS shake-up will limit their ability to protect children. 

More than three quarters of paediatricians surveyed feel they will not be able to fulfil their safeguarding duties effectively under the reforms.

Just 12% believe the reforms will stimulate innovation and improvement in safeguarding and only one felt the role of paediatricians will be protected and enhanced in the new NHS.

Dr Amanda Thomas, child protection officer at the RCPCH, said: “There are clearly serious concerns among doctors about the future of safeguarding – in particular about their ability to fulfil their duties due to lack of time, training and resources.

“In order to protect children, it is crucial that safeguarding is not seen as an afterthought, but instead a central part of our health service.”

The RCPCH has called on the government to make “absolutely clear” the responsibilities and accountabilities of all agencies and professionals involved in child safeguarding, in the forthcoming revised version of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

It is also vital that the new safeguarding arrangements in the NHS are communicated clearly and quickly, Thomas said. “We also want to see NICE develop a quality standard for safeguarding to drive up standards,” she added.

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