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Children: Protection

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance is given by (a) his Department and (b) NHS trusts to clinicians on substantiating clinical opinion and medical diagnosis prior to the instigation of child protection measures; (179549)

(2) how many child protection investigations were initiated by the Royal Liverpool Children’s NHS Trust in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006; and in what percentage of these cases a child was shown to be (i) in need of and (ii) not in need of protection;

(3) whether NHS trusts publish data on the number of child protection investigations undertaken;

(4) what account NHS trusts take of information on child protection investigations in carrying out their functions.

We understand that the Children’s Safeguarding team at the Rainbow Centre at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, which is a part of the Royal Liverpool Children’s NHS Trust, sees on average 40 children per month, taken from a large catchment area that includes the boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley and South Sefton. We do not have any further information on the percentage of cases at the Rainbow Centre where children did or did not need protection.

The Government’s guidance for organisations working with children including both primary care trusts and NHS trusts are contained in “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, published by the Stationery Office in April 2006, copies of which are available in the Library. This sets out a whole chapter (chapter 5) on managing individual cases and a chapter (chapter 2) on roles and responsibilities has a section on health services. National health service trusts are not required to publish data on the number of child protection investigations undertaken.

A diagnosis of child abuse is not a matter for a clinician alone, but would be for multi-disciplinary decision. Primary care trusts and NHS trusts are required to work with local authorities in the establishment of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) and as statutory partners. The LSCBs ensures that the duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children is carried out appropriately.