Sunday, 11 November 2007

Doctors 'failing to spot child abuse'

Full Story:
Hospitals and social workers continue to allow suspicious injuries to slip through the net Doctors and social workers are failing children who end up in hospital after abuse or neglect by their parents, a government-funded inquiry has found. Some are discharged from casualty departments and allowed to go home, despite suspicious injuries such as a black eye or broken arm, because they are not identified as being at risk, states a report by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) charity. Doctors and nurses say specialist social workers are overworked and often reluctant to intervene, even if it is thought children are likely to suffer further harm. Social workers, for their part, told researchers they were 'frustrated with medical staff who were not prepared to make a decision about whether a child's injury was accidental or not' because they did not want to be the one that 'labelled' a family as abusive. The NCB report says that many hospitals and social workers have not implemented changes brought in after the horrific abuse and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000. It comes as new figures show that hospitals in England treat on average 471 children every week who have sustained deliberate injuries. There were 24,497 such cases among under-18s in 2005-06, involving injuries such as a black eye or broken arm. They involved a total of 21,334 children, some of whom were seen more than once. The identities of those thought responsible for the assaults were not recorded, but they include other young people as well as parents, relatives and childminders. The study paints a picture of tension, mistrust and disputes between professionals who are meant to raise the alarm if they suspect abuse or neglect. Its findings indicate that lessons have not been learnt widely enough since staff at two London hospitals were criticised by Lord Laming's inquiry in 2003 into the Climbie case over failures which meant that two opportunities to protect her were missed when she came in for treatment. Last week James Craig, 26, and Sharma Dookhooah, 25, of Romford, Essex, were each jailed for five years after admitting causing or allowing the death of their 10-month-old son Neo. Their Old Bailey trial heard that there had been a series of failings by police, doctors and social workers who knew about the boy's 'derelict' home life but did not intervene, despite a number of warnings. The NCB's year-long survey of child protection arrangements at 130 hospitals also found that fewer than half had a dedicated team of children's social workers based on-site, even though the Department of Health said in 2003 that they should. 'Some children could slip through the net because of that. They could have their injury treated but their underlying abuse may go unnoticed and not investigated,' said Di Hart, one of the two co-authors of the report, A Shared Responsibility: Safeguarding arrangements between hospitals and children's social services

No comments: