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Gold, incentives and meh

Climbié report will put GPs under increased scrutiny

GPs face a delicate balancing act to detect signs of child abuse in the wake of the landmark inquiry into the murder of Victoria Climbié.

Child health experts warned GPs they would come under increased scrutiny and could face legal action if they failed to follow to the letter procedures set out in the

inquiry report.

The report advised GPs who suspect deliberate harm to take comprehensive notes and send written statements to social services. Discussions between colleagues should always be recorded, particularly if there is a difference of

opinion over the diagnosis.

GPs must consider taking histories direct from a

child, even without the carer's consent.

GPs may also be asked to gather information on a child's home and school life when they register with the practice.

The report recommended improved training to help GPs detect child abuse.

Professor David Hall, co-chair of the forthcoming children's NSF and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: 'Cases like this make people nervous of getting involved because of fears about being pilloried in public if they

under-react and being sued or complained against by parents if they over-react.'

Dr Peter Schütte, deputy head of advisory services at the Medical Defence Union, said expectations of GPs would rise, even though the inquiry recommendations did not increase GPs' responsibility for child protection: 'As [expectation] goes up, so of course the chances a doctor is held to answer for what they do or fail to do goes up as well.'

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