Monday

Fears over child protection at one third of NHS trusts


More than 140 NHS trusts have been challenged over the adequacy of their child protection procedures by the Care Quality Commission in the wake of the Baby Peter scandal.

By Andrew Gilligan

Trusts are responsible for declaring whether they meet basic standards for child protection as part of the health service's annual inspection process.

This year, 363 of England's 392 trusts - over 90 per cent - declared that they met the standard.

But in a special review commissioned after Baby Peter's murder, the watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has challenged the claims made by 112 trusts. Eighteen of them - including the main GP service in Manchester - have already been marked down by the watchdog, with other investigations "ongoing."

Internal NHS documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph show the CQC review uncovered "significant lapses" in child protection that "trust boards should have been aware of, but did not take into consideration when making [their] declarations."

The documents say that the CQC review has uncovered "clear evidence" which "conflicts with the 2008/9 declarations made by trusts."

In addition to the 112 trusts whose claims have been questioned, a further 29 trusts admitted that they fell below the standard. They include hospitals, mental health trusts and primary care trusts, which run GP services and health centres.

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: "We make no apologies for coming down hard on trusts not meeting the standard on safeguarding children. Baby Peter was a wake-up call for the NHS. Some trusts have realised they've got more to do than they previously thought. In other cases we needed to bring shortfalls to their attention."

Baby Peter, now named as Peter Connolly, died of multiple injuries in August 2007. He was a patient at a child abuse clinic at St Ann's Hospital, Haringey, north London, and had been seen eight times by NHS staff in the month before his death.

At his last visit to the clinic, two days before he died, the paediatrician examining him sent him home after failing to notice that he had a broken back. The 17-month-old was found dead in his blood-stained cot with eight broken ribs, severe lacerations to his head, a tip of a finger missing, broken teeth, missing nails, and scores of bruises, cuts and abrasions, including a deep tear to his left earlobe, which had been pulled away from his head.

Full article in the Telegraph