Child protection fears raised

Written by: HTU | Published:

Reforms to the NHS could put vulnerable children at risk unless agencies work in a co-ordinated manner, it was claimed last week.

Reforms to the NHS could put vulnerable children at risk unless agencies work in a co-ordinated manner, it was claimed last week.

A conference heard that there was “deep unease" within the sector about the way some children will be protected and cared for under the new arrangements.

The comments, from the NHS Confederation, came after the Royal College of Paediatrics said there are too few doctors with a special responsibility in child protection working in the health service, and warned that child protection could become an “afterthought".

Currently, local authorities and primary care trusts have responsibility for child protection but in future there will be four organisations with a role. However, the government has yet to announce where responsibilities will lie.

The Confederation warned: “Without overarching policy to make organisations across public services work together, clarity over who does what and how the system will work from the national to the local level, children face a fragmented and confusing system to ensure their health needs are met and they are protected properly.

“Confused and fragmented commissioning and provision of services and a failure of organisations to work together have repeatedly been identified as root causes of major failures of child protection in the past."

The reference was to the Baby P case which highlighted major failings in the child protection system.

The child, Peter Connelly, died aged 17 months after suffering 50 separate injuries over eight months despite having been seen by successive doctors, and being known to social services and police.

Jo Webber, deputy policy director of the NHS Confederation, said: “There is deep unease in the NHS that, in re-organising the system, we are resetting to a model that is potentially riskier and certainly more fragmented."

She added: “Outcomes for protecting children should not vary. The safety and health of some of the most vulnerable people cannot be subject to local discretion."

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