Friday, 28 December 2012

Spotting the Signs

There is a new plan to spot abuse victims. It seems that hospital professionals did not have enough information and a new database will identify children who are at risk of abuse. According to one doctor this information is long overdue. Compare that with the news before Christmas that the health minister was 'disgusted and appalled' at NHS failings in Worcestershire which included patients going hungry and thirsty. In one case an 84-year-old man  starved to death in Redditch.

You don't need a degree or even an A level to recognise when someone is thirsty. You don't need a great deal of training to recognise abuse. What you do need is the confidence and authority to raise a concern. An increasing reliance on computers may relate to increased authority but it doesn't add to confidence. Has the professional checked all the information that is available to them? Do they have the time to check all available avenues of information? One answer is that they have to make time. Another answer could be that the signs of abuse are in front of them.

Taking a child from a parent is a really difficult decision and not one to be taken lightly. Maybe knowledge about a child's history would help but what the new database certainly does is add pressure to the work of the professionals. What it doesn't do is remove the necessity for making a decision, especially where the signs are there for all to see and all the database does is to add corroboration where none may actually be needed.

Pressure is added to the care role (see my blog on the pressure on nurses and the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha written on the 14th December) and that means the professional will find it more difficult to evaluate the patient's signs and symptoms. You don't need a plan to spot abuse victims just like you don't need one to feed patients. What you do need is a professional with the character to act. What we get are professionals who hide behind protocols and plans and forms that are filled.

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