Intended for healthcare professionals


Where now for child protection?

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 12 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2535
  1. Heather Payne, consultant paediatrician
  1. 1Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Ystrad Mynach Hospital, Hengoed, Caerphilly CF82 7XU
  1. payneeh{at}

    Standards, training, and support are needed for clinicians and expert witnesses

    Last week’s appeal court judgment resulted in David Southall’s reinstatement to the medical register, after erasure in 2007 by a General Medical Council fitness to practice panel.1 This judgment is a relief to paediatricians on the front line who felt mystified by a process seemingly driven by a cadre of entrenched complainants (with no weight given to a Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health [RCPCH] broad consensus view), and horrified by the consequences for a colleague’s reputation and livelihood.

    For clinicians who regularly see children in a child protection context, the implications of the panel’s decisions were huge and frightening. The panel accepted the allegation of Mrs M over the testimony of Dr Southall and a senior social worker—implying that in a child protection consultation, even with an independent chaperone, doctors might not be safe from allegations of malpractice. The panel apparently failed to acknowledge a challenging aspect of child protection work: that unlike …

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