Social workers are to take the lead in identifying and assessing
cases where a parent or carer induces or fabricates illness in
children they are responsible for.
Under new guidance issued to supplement the government’s Working
Together to Safeguard Children document, social services
departments will take lead responsibility for the initial
assessment of cases. Social services will also co-ordinate other
agencies involved in particular cases.
The condition, known as Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, involves
a parent or carer fabricating illness in a child, or sometimes
The guidance also states that covert use of video surveillance
to identify cases can only be authorised and carried out by police.
Identifying abuse will take precedence over obtaining criminal
Health minister Jacqui Smith said: “The guidance highlights the
shared responsibility of services, professionals and the wider
community for safeguarding children in whom illness is fabricated
or induced by their carers and promoting the welfare of these