Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Dr Judith King (CSWB 20)

Summary

Different child protection systems in different areas will lead to significantly increased difficulty for professionals on the ground and working across more than one council area.

I am also concerned that vulnerable children may lose vital protections under the new system. Please do not reinstate the exemption clauses in this legislation.

1. I write as a retired GP.

2. Children’s protection is an area where extraordinarily difficult and complex decisions have to be made. Health professionals, particularly social workers, have to ensure the safety of all children while not removing children from loving families on baseless grounds. It’s a call which is almost impossible to get right every time.

3. Fragmenting the system by making regulations and processes different from area to area will unnecessarily increase the difficulties faced both by professionals and those who have to train them to navigate the system. I worked as a locum GP in many different practices and areas, but at least had the advantage that the fundamental child protection system was similar everywhere. I needed an afternoon in any practice before starting work to familiarise myself with the practice computer software and local hospitals and labs. However a different child protection system would have required a full child protection training session for safety. This would have been impractical.

4. This is not just an issue for locum GPs; many practices work across two or more local council areas-schools, nurseries and hospitals similarly. Hospitals in particular may have large catchment areas- it could be a nightmare for paediatric staff.

5. Differing systems from area to area will cause confusion among professionals and increase difficulties on the ground. Staff might require separate child protection training for each area….

6. Secondly, I am even more concerned that if councils can "reinvent the wheel" then some of the most vulnerable children in our society may suffer if, under the new system, protections are lost. The duties of care have been imposed on local councils as a result of bitter experience over the years. We should not remove them.

December 2016

 

Prepared 5th January 2017