Nurses call for new classification system for children in need or at risk

are dying because of the system for classifying them as either “at
risk” or “in need”, a fringe meeting of the Royal College of
Nursing Congress in Harrogate heard last week.

Webb, the RCN’s Eastern region director, said categorising children
as either section 17 (in need) or section 47 (at risk) under the
Children Act 1989 was allowing too many to fall through the

is great political pressure not to change those classifications and
we need to start lobbying for a new system,” she said.

who was a member of the panel that produced the health inquiry
report into the death of six-year-old Lauren Wright in Norfolk,
said the case had raised several issues. “We need to look at the
role of school nurses in child protection because in the Wright
case they were completely cut out of the loop – nobody had thought
to use their services at all.”

Houghton, a former diabetes nurse in Bradford who had been involved
in a case where a child died of neglect, said: “I referred the case
to social services three times in three months but no action was
taken. At a case conference the social workers just wanted to talk
about the mother’s sexuality. If we as nurses had made the sort of
mistakes they did, we would have been struck off the register. But
nothing happened to them.”

nurse Gillian Gardner told the meeting that the nursing profession
seemed to be “constantly banging our head against a brick wall with
social services”.

But Webb
warned: “This is not about bashing social services. That’s
politically naive, so don’t go down that route. We need to empower
nurses to have the confidence to say: ‘We need a case conference.
I’ve just seen a child, I’m concerned and I’m not prepared to leave
it at that.'”

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