Thorough review necessary before further roll-out
Joint inspections of children’s records should be confined to those on the child protection register until the system has been established and a thorough review of its operations carried out, Greens said today in the parliamentary debate on the Joint Inspection of Children’s Services and Inspection of Social Work Services (Scotland) Bill.
Green MSPs have some reservations regarding the bill but do support the Executive’s aims to ensure that agencies work together in the interests of children, and support the idea of joint inspections of all services, including health. The bill follows several recent high profile cases, such as that of Caleb Ness, in which children have died despite being known to authorities.
Dr Scott MSP, member of the BMA, former community paediatrician and Green speaker on health, said, “It is accepted that health records of those on the child protection register will be shared, but access to records on other children, for example those with special needs, should be done so only with consent. Any inspection of health records should be done by health professionals only – preferably nurses with child protection experience.
“I am also concerned that there will not be sufficient time for adequate consultation on this bill with both professionals and the public. Yes, we need a system to be in place to avoid any more tragedies of the type we have seen in recent years, but we need that system to be the right one, one that balances respect for the individual and confidentiality with the need to provide the best possible protection for vulnerable children.
“Greens would prefer if this bill applied to child protection services only. However, if it is to be extended to all children’s services, that should happen only after the system has been piloted with child protection and a thorough review of that pilot conducted – reassurance that this review will take place will be key in determining whether or not we support the bill.”
Dr Scott is also concerned about the definition of a child – under the proposals the records a 17-year-old could be accessed without consent.