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Child protection guidance 'impractical' for GPs

By Nigel Praities

NICE guidelines encouraging health workers to blow the whistle on child abuse are impractical and are unlikely to be adopted, says a leading child health expert.

The draft guidelines are designed to prevent a repeat of the Baby P scandal and advise GPs and other healthcare workers on when to suspect child maltreatment, but have been criticised as providing little practical help.

The guidelines says that GPs should record any indicators of suspected maltreatment and ‘seek explanations for any injury' that presents to them.

It goes on to list a range of 80 physical, clinical and emotional signs that GPs should look out for, ranging from bruising or broken bones, to not turning up for follow-up appointments or parents failing to administer medication.

Dr Peter Sidebotham, associate professor in child health at the University of Warwick, said the guidance was an ‘incredible piece of work' but raised doubts over whether it would be practical for GPs to use in their surgeries.

‘This is the first time we have had a really broad systematic review of the evidence around specific clinical indicators of maltreatment, and in that respect it is a huge step forward.

‘But I cannot see any GP doing anything with this other than putting it in the bin or on a shelf. It is not there for front-line practitioners, but could be useful for researchers and trainers in that it summarises the current evidence,' he said.

NICE delayed the release of the guidelines due to the furore over the Baby P case, but has now released the draft guidance for consultation.

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