Monday, 24 January 2011

Child of ContactPoint?

I was pleased to read last week in Community Care about children’s minister Tim Loughton’s plans for a ContactPoint ‘replacement’.

If, as reported, the plan is for a national database, to be used by hospital A&E departments, containing only the names of children who are looked after, or subject to a child protection plans or who have been the subjects of section 47 enquiries, then it has my wholehearted support.

Putting the names of such children on a database can be justified because they are known to be at risk, and making A&E medical staff the main users is sensible. The police have various national systems that let them know if a child has previously come to attention, but A&E staff frequently have to see children with puzzling or suspicious injuries who are not from the local area. Currently in such cases they can only find out if the child is subject to a child protection plan by making a child protection referral. And it might take several days to discover that the child was at risk, by which time the family is long-gone.

A simple system like this is very sensible and, unlike ContactPoint, the small restricted user-ship of professionals, bound by well-established codes of medical confidentiality, will make it much more secure.