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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

GPs to note social exclusion in child protection shake-up

GPs would have to record school attendance patterns and other social exclusion indicators when children register with their practice under Government plans for a shake-up of child protection services.

Ministers have asked the RCGP to look into the move as part of consultation on its green paper Every Child Matters, launched last week.

The paper proposes expanding the circumstances under which GPs must pass on information about patients without gaining consent.

It also seeks views on whether parents' mental health or drug misuse problems should be divulged.

The aim of the proposals, triggered by the Victoria Climbiè inquiry, is to set up a single database for health, education and social services bodies to spot children at risk.

Dr Laurence Knott, a GP in Enfield, north London who is a named doctor for child protection, said GPs' terms of service would have to be altered if they had to record children's social circumstances to provide more funding for the

extra administration.

Proposals to relax patient confidentiality rules met with a mixed response from GPs.

Dr John Cormack, a GP in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, said the changes could threaten the doctor-patient relationship: 'People won't tell GPs what's on their minds if that information starts to waft around the health service.'

Dr Ruth Bastable, a GP in Cambridge and RCGP spokeswoman on child protection, said GPs currently face a catch-22 situation. She said: 'You can share information without consent if there's a child protection issue, but until you share you don't know that there is one.'

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