Aim General practitioners (GP) with their team are central in providing healthcare and promoting welfare of a child and family. Following recent developments/public Inquiries an expectation is placed on them to play an important, if not central, role within the child protection process. A questionnaire survey was conducted and repeated to explore their perspective and readiness to take on this role.
Method A multi-agency team, developed a questionnaire focusing on key areas like (a)demography (b)perception of a GP's own role within the child protection process, (c)training received and training needs, (d)practical difficulties and (e)way forward. This questionnaire was peer-reviewed and piloted on a group of 20 GP's before being posted out to all the GP's (496 and 604) in the area during our first and repeat survey.
Results Around 40% of the GP's responded in our surveys. Though GP's recognised their key role within the child protection process the majority of them felt that it will be difficult for them to participate within their present set up, 78% of GP's hadn't seen a case over the last 3 years. Over 75% of them questioned their own expertise 67% felt that this work would compromise their relationship with their families. Over half of the GP's expressed lack of proper support from Social Services. Most (67%) had received little or no training in child protection. More than half had practical difficulties in attending child protection training events. Interestingly, 4% of the respondents expressed an interest in extending their role as a ‘GP with special interest in child protection’.
Conclusions Clearly, GPs were not ready to take on this role during our first survey. Based on the results of this survey, Health as an agency had modified its service delivery in order to support and train GP's and to minimise clinical risk. This is being revisited in this survey after an intensive training programme during this interim 3 to 4 years period. The results will be compared and analysis will be presented. Plans for future based on the results will be discussed.