The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued new guidance for doctors to help them protect children from child abuse and neglect.

The guidance, Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors, gives doctors support and advice on a range of child protection issues, as well as signposting to other organisations should they need extra help.

It also provides guidance on information sharing, partnership working, consent for child protection examinations and acting as a witness in court.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: "Child protection is a complex and emotionally challenging area of practice for any professional, and doctors in particular can find themselves having to make difficult and delicate judgements in a charged atmosphere. The decisions made or not made as a result can have far reaching consequences.

"We are clear though that doctors must raise their concerns if they believe a child or young person may be at risk of abuse or neglect - and this applies whether or not the child is their patient. They also need to know who to contact for advice if they do have any concerns.

"We very much hope doctors will find this guidance useful, not least in making clear what is expected from them in this critically important area.

"Doctors who make child protection decisions based on the guidance will be able to justify their actions if a complaint is made against them - provided their conclusions are honestly held and have been pursued through the appropriate channels."

Story posted by Robert Mair