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Baby P case forces NICE rethink on child protection guidance for GPs

By Lilian Anekwe

NICE has delayed a planned launch of draft guidance on when GPs should suspect child maltreatment and is to look at its recommendations afresh in light of the outcry over the case of Baby P.

The move came as a review conducted by Haringey Council, where the Baby P case occurred, recommended GPs should have a much greater role in child protection cases.

There is currently disparate guidance for GPs on the protection of children from abuse or neglect. RCGP guidance was released in 2003, endorsed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, but each PCT is supposed to have its own child protection procedures.

But the case of Baby P, a 17 month-old baby who died in August having suffered repeated physical abuse at the hands of his mother and carers, has prompted further national and local scrutiny of child protection measures to ensure GPs and other health workers do not miss cases of suspected child abuse.

NICE was due to publish draft of guidance last week advising GPs and other healthcare professionals of the clinical signs of symptoms of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

But the publication of the draft has been delayed ‘to allow further work to be carried out', Pulse can reveal.

A NICE spokesperson told Pulse: ‘The Department of Health has asked NICE to provide guidance for NHS healthcare professionals on when to suspect maltreatment in children. Unfortunately draft documents are not ready to be issued for consultation and we need additional time to finalise these.'

The Haringey report recommended that: ‘GPs and other practice based staff should be reminded of the important of sharing any early concerns raised by parents/carers about health issues that could reflect safeguarding concerns.'

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