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Protecting children and young people
  1. Michael F E Roe
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael F E Roe, Department of Child Health, Southampton General Hospital, Mailpoint 43 Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; michael.roe{at}

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On 3 September 2012, the General Medical Council (GMC) guidance ‘Protecting children and young people: the responsibility of all doctors’1 came into effect. This guidance from the GMC should be welcomed and should command support from all doctors and other health professionals.

The circumstances that led to the development of this guidance came about from the GMC's handling of a fitness to practice hearing relating to Professor Southall in 2010. As Mr Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, wrote in May 20102 …there is no doubt that this case has caused considerable concern within the paediatric community. This is vital and difficult work and nothing should deter professionals from undertaking it, to protect vulnerable children across the UK. Accordingly, we will convene an expert group to review the guidance for paediatricians involved in child protection to ensure we can provide clarity and reassurance about what is expected from those who practise in this critically important area of healthcare.

Earlier this year, Mr Dickson commented3 The expert group attempted to bring together all parties to try to understand the issues. It was not without controversy, but the resulting guidance will be launched this summer and I believe it will command support from the majority of professionals working in this field. … The next stage must be to work with all doctors to make sure the guidance is put into practice.

It is interesting to note the change of focus for this guidance over its two years of gestation. In May 2010, according to Mr Dickson, the guidance was for paediatricians involved in child protection. Now the guidance is addressed to all doctors. This change of emphasis is crucial …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.