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Safeguarding children in primary care

Warwick Medical School Dean Yvonne Carter has warned “much more needs to be done” in identifying and protecting children suffering from abuse or neglect. Professor Carter made the statement when she delivered The William Pickles Lecture 2006 at the Royal College of General Practitioners. Her lecture, entitled Lessons from the past, learning from the future, has now been published in the March 2007 issue of British Journal of General Practice.

Professor Carter said that although lots of changes had been made in recent years within primary care to protect children, three major challenges lie ahead for the profession. She said: “Firstly, there is an urgent need to improve the evidence-base for child protection decision making (eg at present there is a dearth of consensus on the precise ageing of bruises). Secondly, we must restore public and professional confidence in child protection work. Finally we must all work together to ensure that the protection of children is recognised as a key responsibility for health professionals.”

During the lecture Professor Carter also noted that since 1945 there have been at least 70 public inquiries into serious cases of child abuse in the UK. She hoped the lecture would give GPs an appetite to learn more about the subject of child protection and be inspired to continue this valuable role in general practice and primary care. She added: “Some doctors feel that child protection work is the prime responsibility of other professionals such as social workers and specialist paediatricians… the most relevant issue is the lack of awareness of child protection issues and inadequate training.”