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Independents' Day

GPs' fears over child protection

By Jo Lepper

Government plans for GPs to take a greater role in child protection could falter because the issue is not covered by the new contract, experts are warning.

GPs and academics told an RCGP conference it was a 'matter of anxiety' that child protection was not included because practices had to be made more aware of their


A Government consultation paper aimed at toughening up procedures for spotting abuse and raising the alarm has suggested GPs record school attendance patterns and other social exclusion indicators as part of an expansion in their role.

Lord Laming, author of the report into the abuse and murder of Victoria Climbie, has

also said GPs are 'the lead people' in helping protect children. He attacked child protection training for GPs and called on primary care organisations to do more to promote the issue.

Dr Anna Wilson, Hampshire Area Child Protection Committee GP representative, told the conference many GPs felt the issue was the responsibility of social services.

She said: 'The contract needs to make sure GPs are aware that it is their responsibility. It is a matter of anxiety.'

Dr Anthony Cockeram, a GP in Preston, Lancashire, who is training to become a named doctor for child protection, said the issue was a 'Cinderella area'.

Dr Michael Bannon, director of the Oxford Postgraduate Department of Medical and Dental Education, added: 'Looking at the new GP contract it seems to me that GPs may not undertake child protection if they don't want to and that concerns me.'

But GP negotiators said ministers would have to give practices extra money for the work if they wanted them to play a bigger role.

GPC negotiator Dr Ham-ish Meldrum said the contract acknowledged GPs' statutory duty to protect children but extra Government funding would have to follow if ministers wanted GPs to do more work. He added: 'GPs can

only do more if there are more resources.'

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