Child protection must become business of health, inquiry told

Health professionals do not see child
protection as their business and regard their role as helping
social services to sort it out, the final inquiry seminar heard
last week.

Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association
of Directors of Social Services, said that the perception among
those working in social care was that both child protection and
children in general came low on the health service agenda.

“I have example after example of difficulties
in getting health professionals engaged, difficulties in getting
them to see the child rather than the family dynamism and
difficulties in getting them to come to case conferences,” he

He added that it was important that health
staff took responsibility instead of “looking to social services at
4.30 on a Friday afternoon”.

Other members of the panel said the problem
went right to the top of government and neither the home secretary
nor the Prime Minister saw child protection as a priority.

Denise Platt, chief inspector of the Social
Services Inspectorate, said she hoped the new children’s national
service framework would make it clear to each agency their

“People think their responsibility is to help
social services deal with child protection… but in doing that you
can forget as a particular agency what your own responsibilities

Richard Cooling, clinical director for Sutton
and Merton Primary Care Trust, admitted there has not been a major
focus on child protection among GPs, adding that the amount of
training they received on the subject was “minimal”.

But Dr Maurice Conlon, director of primary
care for the NHS clinical governance support team, said the
criticism of health professionals irritated him.

He said that clinicians were sometimes
inhibited about referring child health cases to social services
because of doubts over what would happen and uncertainties over

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