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Arch Dis Child 88:560-562 doi:10.1136/adc.88.7.560
  • Leading article

Paediatricians and child protection: the need for effective education and training

  1. M J Bannon1,
  2. Y H Carter2
  1. 1Consultant Paediatrician, Northwick Park Hospital & Associate Dean, London Deanery, UK
  2. 2Professor of General Practice and Primary Care, Barts and the London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr M J Bannon, London Deanery, 20 Guilford Street, London WC1N 2DZ, UK;
    mbannon{at}londondeanery.ac.uk

    “Child protection training is essential for all health professionals engaged in services for children. It is not an optional extra” (Barry Capon, Chair of Independent Inquiry into Death of Lauren Wright)1

    Child maltreatment has become increasingly topical, and recent high profile cases of fatal abuse have attracted considerable attention from the media.2 Furthermore, independent inquiries have not only highlighted system failures in the child protection process, but have also been critical of the actions undertaken by health professionals and social workers. The most significant case in this respect is that of Victoria Climbié, whose death at the hands of her carers has prompted a major review of child protection procedures led by Lord Laming. His report is now available and should be carefully considered by all professionals who care for children and their families.3 Of a total of 108 recommendations made by Laming, 26 are specific to health. The report refers to poor standards in note keeping, inadequate communication between individuals and agencies, and ineffective and poorly coordinated intervention once child protection concerns are raised. A key message is that a case of suspected abuse or neglect should be treated with the same level of urgency as any other potentially fatal childhood disorder. The importance of child protection training for all relevant health care professionals is stressed. In addition, it is recommended that all consultant paediatricians should be periodically revalidated with respect to management of deliberate harm to children and subsequent multidisciplinary investigation. Relatively little in the Laming report is new. A previously published study of Part 8 reviews has already identified similar themes and conclusions.4

    DOCTORS AND THE CHILD PROTECTION PROCESS

    The child protection process and associated legislation varies in specific detail from one country to another. However, most systems require clinicians to remain vigilant for the possibility of abuse or …