Doctors 'should not fear raising child abuse alarm'

Doctors should not fear reporting suspicions about child abuse, the regulator of the profession says.

The General Medical Council said high-profile cases and a concern about complaints by parents were deterring doctors from raising the alarm.

But it said new guidance it was issuing should give medics the confidence to act when they needed to.

The guidance stresses the need for doctors to consider the risk of child abuse in every case they see.

It also details when it is appropriate for doctors to share information about patients.

'Climate of fear'

The guidance comes after fears have been raised about the issue.

Doctors have complained that there is a "climate of fear", which has made some wary about reporting concerns.

It has included criticism of the way the GMC itself has gone after some doctors who have been accused of giving misleading evidence in child protection cases.

The guidance, which builds on an existing policy published six years ago, has been produced after a two-year review.

It was prompted in part by claims that opportunities were missed to help 17-month-old Peter Connelly, or "Baby P", who died in August 2007 after months of abuse.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said child protection was a "complex and emotionally challenging" area of work for doctors.

"Doctors who make child protection decisions based on the guidance will be able to justify their actions if a complaint is made against them," he added.

Dr Amanda Thomas, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the guidance would provide a "valuable framework".

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