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Call to protect paediatricians


20 February, 2008  

A professor has called for paediatricians to be given greater protection from attacks from the media and parents.

Dean of Medicine at Nottingham University, Terence Stephenson, said child health experts faced intimidation in the difficult field of child protection and are being put off acting as expert witnesses in court in cases such as child abuse.

The professor said the Government and medical regulators were failing to defend them and called for a survey of paediatricians to find out their views.

Prof Stephenson said: “We need explicit backing from the Government saying the rights of children come first and that means reassuring specialists like myself, that we shouldn’t fear giving expert evidence in child abuse cases because we might become the victims of vexatious complaints and campaign attacks.”

He said doctors should not be publicly denounced or threatened with the loss of their livelihood for raising genuine concerns based on their expert knowledge.

It comes after several paediatricians have come under fire in recent years over their child work.

Dr David Southall was found guilty in December of serious professional misconduct and struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council.

He was said to have abused his position by accusing a mother of drugging and murdering her son. He later defended himself, saying the first priority of anyone in child protection had to be the child.

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Nottingham University Faculty of Medicine and Health Services