Cozens reminds sector about evidence-based practice

    Actions taken by paediatrician David Southall that resulted in
    him being banned from child protection work for three years serve
    as reminder of the importance of evidence-based practice, according
    to the president of the Association of Directors of Social
    Services, writes Sally Gillen.

    Andrew Cozens has urged child protection social workers not to
    be demoralised by the case, in which Southall contacted police with
    concerns that the husband of Sally Clark had murdered their babies
    after watching a television documentary on the case.

    Cozens said: “Feedback from judges is that social workers
    is that that they tend to have very good evidence but they do not
    tend to assert themselves in court in the way doctors
    do.”

    Southall was found guilty of professional misconduct at a
    General Medical Council hearing in Manchester last week.

    He told police he believed Stephen Clark had killed his sons
    Christopher and Harry after watching a television documentary on
    the case of Sally Clark, who was jailed for the deaths in November
    1999 but cleared in December 2003.

    He later wrote a report for solicitors on the case without
    speaking to the family, accessing case papers, or examining X-rays
    or other medical reports.

    Another seven complaints against Southall are being dealt with
    by the General Medical Council and are expected to be heard in
    January.

    At the hearing in Manchester, tribunal chair Denis McDevitt
    said: “As a potential expert witness, you had a duty to list
    in your report the limitations of either the method you used come
    to your conclusion or the result.”

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