Intended for healthcare professionals


Lack of paediatric experts to testify in cases of suspected child harm is traumatising families, says judge

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 28 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6244
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Justice is being delayed and families traumatised because there are too few paediatric experts willing to give evidence in cases where local authorities accuse parents of harming a child, a family court judge has said.1

Judge Robin Bedford made the comments in a case which went to the family court at Brighton because social services believed that a three month old baby, referred to as C, had suffered a non-accidental injury (NAI). Mother and baby were required to go into a foster placement while the three other children remained at home with their father under supervision.

It took five months before the family were reunited after three independent paediatric experts agreed that the baby had had an accidental low level fall. At one point, the local authority applied to the court for an order that the three other children should go into foster …

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