NICE has today (22 July 2009) issued guidance to help healthcare professionals to identify children who may have been maltreated.
The guidance provides a summary of alerting features that should prompt a healthcare professional to consider, suspect or exclude child maltreatment. Child maltreatment includes neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and fabricated or induced illness.
The guidance is intended to encourage healthcare professionals to think holistically when a child presents so that they think about what they see, hear and any other information they receive to help them build up a picture.
For example, if maltreatment is considered, they may need to look at the whole child, gather relevant information from other sources and discuss the case with a senior colleague and review the child.
Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive said: "We want to give healthcare professionals the confidence to recognise the signs of maltreatment and to know when to refer on to a specialist.
"This guidance does not include recommendations on how to diagnose, confirm or disprove maltreatment; this should be done by specialists in social care, following Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures."
Christine Habgood, GP, Brighton and Hove said: "This guideline provides welcome support for frontline healthcare professionals in their work with children.
"We are asking GPs and others to think really carefully about what they are seeing, to discuss their suspicions with other colleagues if necessary or refer children on to the appropriate agencies if they suspect them to be maltreated. Every child should feel safe and secure and we all need to make sure this happens."
"This is a good idea, but I'm sorry to highlight an issue that went ignored. I live in a small village and this mum is a single mum, she has an alcohol problem, depression, anorexic, etc. The kids dad works away from the village but sees them often. The problem is this mum gets so drunk and the kids will go without proper food for hours, unless the dad gets back from work and cooks or sometimes he has to get the kids to school when the mum is drunk. When I raised this issue, nothing was done a year later, the mum still drinks, and the kids are very aware of the mums drinking habits. How can this be addressed, the mum needs counselling but she is in denial." - Margaret, Dumfries