Background Previous study has revealed that many doctors consider the identification of abuse as being their primary responsibility in the management of child safeguarding cases. However, a doctor’s role extends further; prevention, treatment, and advocacy strategies may all fall within the realm of their duties. This study attempted to address the quantity of focused training related to maltreatment among junior, mid-level, and senior clinicians, from a broad range of medical specialties, while noting any variation in the attitudes regarding the subject in these cohorts.
Method A 14-item survey, divided into three separate sections was developed and distributed to all clinicians working within the hospital trust in question. Analysis focused on identifying differences by level of experience (comparing first-tier, second-tier, and consultant practitioners) and specialty (comparing paediatricians, surgeons, and physicians working in other specialities). Categorical data was organised as frequencies. Likert scale data was evaluated by means of a Kruskal-Wallis test. Open-ended questioning was subject to content analysis and subsequently compared on a thematic basis.
Results A majority of consultants (54.2%) reported that protection of children was the responsibility of the trust safeguarding team (cumulatively, 45% of all practitioners did not feel that child welfare was everyone’s responsibility); a similar trend was exhibited amongst surgeons (80% agreement) following analysis of specialty. However, open questioning and situational testing noted an awareness of and willingness to work in accordance with current trust safeguarding guidance.
Conclusion “Protecting children and young people: The responsibility of all doctors” is the title of the General Medical Council’s guidance book distributed to all doctors in 2012. It is therefore disappointing to see that nearly half of the respondents, including 54% of Consultants replied that safeguarding was the responsibility of a dedicated team. The result of this survey will be discussed with the trust board to enable a significant change of attitude within all doctors. Safeguarding training is mandatory and all doctors will be encouraged to undertake training and will receive ongoing support from Paediatricians and the safeguarding team.