The advice urges doctors to report any suspicions, or ‘hunches’ they have about a parent or child to their superiors immediately.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC said: “Child protection is a difficult area of practice, complicated by uncertainty and often very emotionally challenging. Parents and carers need to have full confidence that if there are any issues raised about the safety of their child, their doctor will take the right course of action.”
The GMC guidance states that mothers with violent partners, drink or drug problems, and post-natal depression should be questioned particularly carefully during appointments.
The advice documents were put together using information collected from a GMC-commissioned survey posted on online parent network Netmums.
The survey, involving 1,500 people, found that:
- 94% of parents believe doctors have a duty to find out if a child is at risk of abuse or neglect.
- 99% believe doctors have a duty to investigate possible abuse or neglect if parents have drink or drug problems.
- Over 90% say they would want their doctor to alert them immediately if they suspected their child was at risk of being abused or neglected.
- Over half say doctors should speak with children as young as five directly and in private if they have suspicions.
Mr Dickson thinks the issue at the heart of the research is that communication lines need to be improved between parents, children, doctors and seniors.
To ensure the welfare and protection of children, it is crucial that doctors are a) open with parents and b) perceptive of suspicious behaviour.
If you have been effected in any way by issues of abuse and neglect mentioned in this article, you can find out how a counsellor may be able to help by visiting our pages about Abuse and Child Related Issues.
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