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GP role in Baby P death criticised by regulator

By Nigel Praities

The Care Quality Commission has released its assessment of the circumstances surrounding the death of Baby P, saying the NHS must learn from the tragic case.

In a report likely to pile more pressure on PCTs to improve their child protection procedures, the CQC outlines ‘systemic failings' in child protection procedures and singles out GPs for criticism.

The report looks in detail at the 34 contacts with health professionals Baby Peter had before his death in Haringey, North London, including the 14 at a GP practice.

It says poor communication, staff shortages in the NHS and lack of awareness of the importance of child protection led to the failure to protect Baby Peter.

Shortcomings from the GPs involved in the case are also highlighted, with attendance at child protection conferences identified as a particular problem.

‘The attendance of health professionals at child protection case conferences is still below the desired levels, with paediatricians and GPs finding these conferences particularly difficult to attend due to clashes with clinical activities.

‘The GP would have received letters that reported Baby P's attendance at hospital and, as the central medical record holder, the GP may have been able to identify the trend of recurring visits to A&E as a signal of potential abuse,' it reads.

The report preceeds a NHS-wide review of child protection procedures currently being undertaken by the CQC, and comes after a serious case review recommended a stronger role for GPs in monitoring at-risk children.

CQC Chief Executive Cynthia Bower, said: ‘It is imperative to ensure lessons are learnt across the country, as well as in north London.

‘We are concerned that NHS trusts don't always know whether they are doing the right things to safeguard children.

‘Our national review will check what information trust boards use to assure themselves they are getting it right. We will not hesitate to use our powers if we find trusts are not doing enough to ensure appropriate safeguarding procedures are in place.'

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