Shortage in child protection doctors

Too few doctors are entering child protection work according to a new survey.

And there are fears that high profile complaint cases against doctors working in child protection cases is discouraging many from entering the profession.

According to figures from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) despite a 12.1 per cent rise on all paediatricians between 2001 and 2003, the number of community paediatricians only increased by 0.3 per cent.

Sir Alan Craft, president of the RCPCH welcomed the notable rise in paediatricians, but warned: "Worryingly, however, there is a virtual standstill in the number of paediatricians working in the community.

"Community paediatrics is a critically important area of work.

"It is these paediatricians who play such a central role in child protection work."

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is concerned that the health and welfare of children is being put at risk by the relative lack of child protection specialists.

In addition, the NSPCC has warned that this trend could continue, with high profile court cases criticising child protection doctors putting paediatricians off entering this field.

"Paediatricians are essential to the child protection process and play a vital role in identifying and protecting abused children," said Natalie Cronin of the NSPCC.

"It is of great concern that fewer paediatricians are opting to work in the crucial area of child protection."

Sir Alan also warned the standstill in child paediatrician recruitment will also affect the future training of doctors.