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03.09.12

GMC launches guidance on child abuse

New guidance to help doctors protect children from abuse and neglect comes into effect today. The guidance, issued by the General Medical Council (GMC), aims to support doctors in identifying possible risk factors, listen to parents and children and keep take action when necessary.

The GMC commissioned a survey of parents, conducted by Netmums, which found that 94% agreed that doctors have a duty to find if a child is at risk even when only treating adult patients.

This could include watching for signs of alcohol or drug abuse, which could impact on a child’s safety. Those surveyed suggested either raising concerns with parents or seeking advice from a senior colleague first.

And 86% agreed that doctors should take action on the suspicion of abuse or neglect, even if they have no proof that this is the case.

The guidance was produced following a two-year working group examining the issues.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “Child protection is a difficult area of practice, complicated by uncertainty and often very emotionally challenging.

“Parents and carers need to have full confidence that if there are any issues raised about the safety of their child, their doctor will take the right course of action.

“Part and parcel of this is making sure that doctors communicate properly with both parents and children to convey any concerns they may have.

“Our new guidance will help guide doctors toward making the correct decisions in this challenging but essential area of work.”

Child protection officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Amanda Thomas, said: “When a doctor suspects a child may be the subject of abuse, the prospect of communicating this to parents can be daunting.

“This new guidance should give thousands of doctors the confidence to raise these concerns and help communicate them in the best possible way to parents.”

To read the guidance visit: www.gmc-uk.org/childprotection

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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