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GPs agree to train for child protection

A group of GPs has agreed to attend training on child protection issues and passing information to social workers after an 11-week-old baby was killed by its father.

Alexander Ness, who suffers from brain damage, was convicted of culpable homicide after shaking his son Caleb to death.

The GPs in Scotland had no criticism levelled against them by an inquiry into the boy's death.

But they have since come under fire from public sector union Unison for not passing on information to the social work department for fear of violating patient confidentiality or the Data Protection Act.

Dr Dean Marshall, secretary of the Lothian Medical Committee, said the backlash against GPs was unfair. He added any problems surrounded requests for information from social services rather than GPs ringing alarm bells about potential risks.

'If there's a perceived risk to a child then a GP would have to act in the interest of the child,' said Dr Marshall.

'We need better communication when social workers contact GPs for information without explaining why that information is needed.'

A white paper in England has put forward proposals for GPs to keep school attendance records and social exclusion indicators as a way of improving child protection.

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