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Children First National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children

Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched the Children First 2011 – National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children on 15th July 2011. This National Guidance promotes the protection of children from abuse and neglect and supersedes the Children’s First published in 1999 by the Department for Health and Children.

The Children First Guidance can be found on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website at http://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=1665 and doctors attention is drawn to chapter 4, and in particular Roles and Responsibilities of the Health Sector. In these provisions guidance is provided to general practitioners, primary care teams, hospital staff and child and adolescent psychiatry services.

In addition to this Guidance, the current edition of the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, 7th Edition published by the Medical Council in November 2009, also provides guidance for the protection and welfare of children.

Paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2 of this guide direct doctors to the National Guidelines which have now been updated and direct that doctors who have any concerns about alleged or suspected sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect of children to report such concerns to the appropriate authorities and/ or relevant statutory agency without delay.

In this regard the National Guidance has set out reporting procedures at paragraph 3.4 of chapter 3 and provides contact details in the appendices for the HSE Children and Family Services nationwide.