BASW backs plan for A&E teams to access child protection records
BASW's Acting Chief Executive Bridget Robb uses a column in The Times to respond to ministerial plans for all children in England who are admitted to hospital accident and emergency departments to be run through a national database to spot signs of abuse. Here's what she wrote:
Given the important role accident and emergency departments have in the protection of children it is critical that hospitals have good access to the records of the children they are treating (Bridget Robb writes)
This is especially vital for vulnerable children who may be taken to several doctors and hospitals, whether because of efforts to conceal abuse or because their families frequently move around.
This was documented in the cases of Victoria Climbié and Baby P, where the significance of visits to different doctors and hospitals had not been identified.
However, computer systems are not an answer in themselves. While A&E staff have a crucial role in understanding the medical impact of abuse, and when necessary providing a temporary safe place for an abused child, they cannot do this alone.
For this expert work, social workers need to be allocated to work with A&E professionals, to pursue inquiries and work with families, once suspected abuse is identified. Locating social workers in A&E departments would be an innovative and helpful step in markedly improving the system.
Of course it is not just children who are abused. A&E departments play the same crucial role for vulnerable people of all ages, and consideration should also be given to how we can better identify abuse among older people entering A&E.
Bridget Robb is acting chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers