New guidance has advised doctors who are concerned that a child is being neglected or abused to inform the parents and young person of their suspicions.
Doctors should speak to parents early if they have worries over the treatment being received by a youngster, the General Medical Council (GMC) said.
Concerns raised by paediatricians over the prospect of complaints from parents and having to appear in front of GMC fitness to practise panels have prompted the development of the child protection guidance.
It has been provided to reassure doctors that by following its principles, they will not face discipline from the GMC, even if their suspicions prove to be incorrect.
The guidance advises that the local authority children’s services department, the police or another appropriate agency should be informed by the doctor if they have concerns over abuse or neglect – or risk of either.
The welfare of the child must be the doctor’s first concern but parents should be informed of what is going on.
“You should explain that doctors have a professional duty to raise concerns if they think a child or young person is at risk of abuse or neglect, and make sure that parents are given information about the nature of concerns and how they will be investigated or acted upon, including if you are making a referral to local authority children’s services,” the guidance says.
Copyright © Press Association 2011