GPs to be encouraged to be more involved in child protection

GP attendance at child protection case conferences should be audited by primary care trusts (PCT’s) to ensure GPs are more involved in child safeguarding measures.

The recommendation comes in a letter from the national clinical director for children and the national clinical director for primary care to PCT chief executives. The letter attempts to clarify some of Lord Laming’s recommendations in his report which called on local services to translate policy and legislation into day-to-day practice for frontline workers in every service.

Lord Laming also concluded that GPs’ lack of interest in interagency working was a “heated issue” and it was “alarming” that so few doctors and GPs were represented in the advanced courses on interprofessional working to safeguard children.

The letter to PCTs also recommends that GP appraisals be updated to specifically include safeguarding of children. It highlights that safeguarding is likely to form part of proposed assessment procedures GPs will have to undertake to renew their licence to practise.

“You also have a role to play in helping to improve appropriate information sharing between social services and GPs on child protection matters. You may wish to liaise with your Local Medical Committee on how best to achieve this,” the letter states.

Ongoing concern

Nushra Mansuri, professional officer of children’s services issues at BASW, said GPs’ inaccessibility was an ongoing concern among social workers.

“Of course, some doctors are very interested and involved, but this guidance has been a long time coming,” she said. “There’s been a lot of frustration for social workers and people working in local authorities when it comes to engagement with GPs.

“GPs need to recognise that they’re so important to this process because they’re often the first people who can spot an abusive situation and provide that necessary evidence.”

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee, said PCTs needed to both to push and support GPs to get more involved.

“It’s a statutory obligation that they take on these recommendations, so saying they don’t feel like it is unacceptable,” he said. “I think PCTs can enable that. For instance when it comes to attending a course, if the GPs are just lazy and don’t think it’s important, that’s not a legitimate excuse. If it costs £600 to go, that might be a good reason. In that case, the PCT should help them with that cost and then it won’t be a reason.”

See social workers’ views on this topic and have your say on this CareSpace thread

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