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CHI calls for scrutiny of GPs on child protection

GPs will face greater scrutiny of their handling of child protection issues after a Commission for Health Improvement found PCTs have no control over how they deal with cases.

An audit of 60 PCTs' approach to the issue concluded trusts had little knowledge of practices' policies and had to improve checks on GPs' record keeping and reporting of children who may be at risk.

A linked report by the Social Services Inspectorate concluded some GPs were unwilling to share information about adult family members.

The reports come in the wake of Government consultation on a shake-up of child protection services which recommends GPs record school attendance patterns and other social exclusion indicators.

PCTs will have to implement the recommendations, which follow the Laming inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié, but GPs warned trusts are struggling because of a shortage of expertise.

Liverpool LMC secretary Dr Rob Barnett said the knowledge held by health authorities had been lost. 'We had a robust system under the health authorities but the changeover to PCTs didn't go as smoothly as planned, not just in child protection but in a whole range of areas.'

The CHI report found only two PCTs attempted to increase communication with GPs to raise awareness of child protection issues.

It also concluded that although many PCTs offer child protection awareness training, uptake by GPs was poor.

Dr Mike Parks, secretary of East Kent LMC and a GP in Deal, said his trust had sent information but had not followed up whether practices were complying with it.

'I'm not sure PCTs realise they have a responsibility to follow up on and deliver the recommendations,' he said. 'There is no reason why they couldn't audit it on their annual surgery inspection.'

Dr Laurence Knott, a GP in Enfield, north London, and a named doctor for child protection, said practices would support proposals to bolster child protection but needed extra resources to comply.

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