The RCGP had launched a new toolkit aimed at helping GPs identify children and young people at risk of radicalisation and child-trafficking, alongside guidance on how to act on these issues.
The toolkit – published by the RCGP and NSPCC today – highlights new safeguarding challenges that GPs must be alert to, including cyber bullying, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and appropriate action they should take.
The college said that child health makes up a significant proportion of a GP’s workload, and the guidance also covers ‘conventional’ aspects of child safeguarding such as neglect, physical abuse and caring for children with disabilities.
An RCGP statement says: ‘Advice to help GPs identify and support children and young people at risk of child trafficking and radicalisation is also included in the new toolkit… It reflects the changing landscape of general practice, with GPs on the frontline of increasingly complex health and societal challenges.
‘All professionals who come into contact with children and their families have a responsibility to safeguard and promote their welfare, and should know what to do if they have concerns about a child.’
According to latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), 43,140 children were subject to a child protection plan and 68,110 children were ‘looked after’ in England in 2013.
RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said the guidance would help GPs in treating these societal problems, as part of whole person consultations.
Dr Baker added: ‘Because of the anonymity offered by the internet, many children and young people run a higher risk of being harmed or exploited.
‘[GPs are] in an ideal position to identify potential risks to the physical and mental health of our young people, along with the legal and safeguarding protocols and support networks that are available to them.
‘As GPs we are trained to treat the “whole person” and that means now taking into account a number of societal, as well as health, factors.’
Pulse recently revealed that the CQC would be reading GP records for vulnerable children to assess their implementation of safeguarding protocols.