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New guidance for doctors following Baby P case

3 August 2010

The General Medical Council (GMC) has announced that Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Thorpe, Deputy Chair of the Family Justice Council and Lord Justice of Appeal will chair a working group to produce new guidance for doctors involved in child protection. The working group has been asked to develop guidance that will help doctors involved in this complex and challenging area of practice to interpret and apply the standards expected by the GMC.

The group has 14 members including 7 doctors from a number of specialities and 7 lay members. It includes individuals from a range of backgrounds with an understanding of both children’s and parents’ perspectives.

The Working Group will:

  • Review the content of relevant GMC guidance against significant developments regarding doctors’ roles in child protection (such as Good Medical Practice; 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors, Confidentiality, and Acting as an expert witness);
  • Identify and consider any guidelines other organisations have published on issues related to doctors in child protection work and how this might inform or complement GMC guidance;
  • Engage with a range of experts on the challenges and practical difficulties doctors face undertaking child protection work, and to seek the views of key interests;
  • Decide the scope and structure of new guidance, taking account of other GMC guidance;
  • Recommend a draft of the guidance to the GMC;
  • Oversee and analyse the outcome of a formal consultation exercise; and
  • Consider, and advise on, ways in which the new guidance could be disseminated, promoted, and used, and its impact evaluated.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Thorpe, Chair of the Working Group on Child Protection, said:

“I am delighted to be asked to chair the group. I very much hope that the initiative the GMC has taken will contribute to the future in which doctors feel secure in contributing to child protection procedures, including giving expert evidence to the courts.”

The group has been asked to produced the guidance by the end of 2011 and will start seeking views and evidence from a variety of individuals this summer.