A General Practitioner who suspects child abuse should:
- take a thorough history and record the explanation given of the child’s condition verbatim
- log all injuries in detail on a body chart
- record all discussions, decisions, actions agreed and responsibilities for carrying out the actions
- be honest with parents and carers about the concern and the need for investigation. Where possible obtain parental consent for referral to children’s social care unless this would place the child at increased risk of abuse. The interests of the child are paramount and initiating safeguarding procedures is not conditional on obtaining consent.
- refer by telephone to Children’s Services or the Emergency Duty Team if out of hours.
- confirm a telephone referral in writing within 48 hours.
If the GP is uncertain about what to do when presented with an injured child/baby then they must at the very least share their concern immediately, either with a colleague, an experienced paediatrician, the local safeguarding team or the initial response service at CSC. If they remain concerned following these discussions then they should follow the steps outlined above.
Further advice and guidance is available from the relevant Designated/Named Doctor for safeguarding.
If there is to be a Child Protection Conference the GP will be invited to attend and is urged to attend if at all possible. It is essential that a report should be provided in advance to the conference chair which will be made available for other professionals attending. If attendance is not possible the report should be made available outlining involvement and clinical findings, and shared with the parents prior to the conference.
N.B. the conference report can be requested for court proceedings.
It is considered good practice to share the referral details with members of the primary care team, particularly the Health Visitor.