During investigations by the General Medical Council into the conduct of paediatrician David Southall, it emerged that, during periods of employment at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital and the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (“Hospital Trusts”) between 1980 and 2000, he kept “Special Case” files (SC files) on some of his patients separate from the hospital record system. In February 2007 the Attorney-General announced that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was to review 4434 SC files, and examine whether there had been any non-disclosure of information in relation to criminal court proceedings. In July 2008 the Attorney-General announced that the review had concluded that there were no grounds to suggest such non-disclosure of information. The Attorney-General also announced that DCSF had agreed with a recommendation that it should conduct a similar review, focusing on 82 SC files that the CPS identified as being linked to court proceedings of some kind, to ascertain if there had been any non-disclosure of information in relation to family court proceedings.
DCSF commenced the review in August 2009. It involved a total of 78 SC files, which represented all the SC file material that could be located by the Hospital Trusts. Four SC files were unable to be traced.
DCSF arranged for the NSPCC to review the SC Files as an independent expert reviewer, and agreed to accept their findings in their entirety. The review team comprised three NSPCC consultants with expertise in child protection investigations.
The NSPPC examined each case file to identify whether there was material that raised child protection concerns, and subsequently whether that material could potentially have influenced the outcome of a child protection case had it been shared with local authority children’s social care services at the time. These considerations enabled the review team to report back to DCSF whether any case file needed to be referred on to the relevant local authority for further review, on the basis that the file contained material that may not have been previously known to the local authority.
The NSPCC review team have concluded the review and provided DCSF with a report of their findings. The conclusions are:
of the 78 SC files reviewed, information was found raising child protection concerns in 76 cases. Two of the SC files were found to relate to instances where Dr. Southall was asked to prepare reports where abuse was not suspected
in each of these 76 cases there was evidence of this information being known to the local authority children’s social care and/or the police.
The review team recommended that none of the 78 files should be referred back to the local authority for further investigation. I accept these findings in their entirety, and have written informing the Attorney-General of the conclusion of the review. The NSPCC’s report on its findings has today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.