Doctors to help protect vulnerable children

HOSPITAL doctors are to have access to a new system to help them identify victims of child abuse, the government has announced.

Work is underway on the Child Protection – Information System which is expected to be introduced in NHS hospitals by 2015.

Once it is up and running, doctors and nurses in emergency departments or urgent care centres will be notified if a child they are treating is subject to a child protection plan or is being looked after. The system will also flag up if the child has frequently attended emergency departments/urgent care centres over a certain period of time, which can be an indicator of abuse or neglect.

Announcing the move, health minister Dan Poulter said: “Doctors and nurses are often the first people to see children who are victims of abuse.

“Up until now, it has been hard for frontline healthcare professionals to know if a child is already listed as being at risk or if children have been repeatedly seen in different emergency departments or urgent care centres with suspicious injuries or complaints, which may indicate abuse.

“Providing instant access to that information means vulnerable and abused children will be identified much more quickly – which will save lives.”

The system is being developed with help from the Royal College of Paediatrics.

Dr Amanda Thomas, the College’s officer for child protection, said it was “an encouraging move towards ensuring that clinical professionals have immediate access to important child protection information.”

Only NHS staff involved in the treatment of the child will have access to the information, the Department of Health said, adding: “All the normal rules about patient confidentiality will apply.”