New GMC guidance to doctors

New guidance entitled Protecting Children And Young People: The Responsibilities Of All Doctors has been published by the GMC following a 2 year working group led by Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe. The working group heard evidence from a range of child protection experts.

The study was developed following worries within the profession that recent high profile cases and fears of complaints from parents were deterring some doctors from working in the area as well as deterring some doctors from raising child protection concerns.

The guidance says “It is vital that all doctors have the confidence to act if they believe that a child or young person may be being abused or neglected. Taking action will be justified, even if it turns out that they are not at risk of or suffering abuse or neglect, as long as the concerns are honestly held and reasonable and the doctor takes action through appropriate channels”.

The report will be issued to more than 230,000 doctors across the country with requests that they also consider whether a patient they are treating poses a risk to children or young people.

Niall Dickinson, Chief Executive of GMC said “Child protection is a complex and emotionally challenging area of practice for any professional, and doctors in particular. We very much hope doctors will find this guidance useful, not least in making clear what is expected from them in this critically important area”.

Dr Amanda Thomas, Child Protection Officer at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, welcomed the new guidance and said that it provided a valuable framework for doctors. She added “We’re pleased to see that it addresses all doctors – because whether they have a specific safeguarding role or not, every doctor has a responsibility to protect children”.