Thurrock Health bosses deny child protection assessments are not being completed


By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

THE clinical commissioning group that oversees healthcare in Thurrock has denied some of the borough’s most vulnerable children are being left at risk of abuse, despite claims in their own report.

Details of an “extreme” risk to child protection are outlined in a board meeting report, which describes how medical assessments undertaken when there is a suspicion of child abuse are either not being completed or not provided in a “timely manner”.

When the Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was asked to provide more details on this issue, which is highlighted in their own report, they claimed it was a “mistake”.

A spokesperson said: “A child medical assessment should always be considered when there is a suspicion or disclosure of child abuse and / or neglect involving injury, bruises, suspected sexual abuse or serious neglect. This is often referred to as a child protection medical or section 47 medical.

“Since August 2018, all child protection assessment medicals are completed within 24 hours of referral, within commissioned timeframe.

“Hand written reports were always provided to social services who are responsible for ensuring that they have all information following assessment to safeguard children and young people. There were no occasions where this was not followed.”

Despite the claim that this is a “mistake”, it has been listed as an extreme risk in three publicly published sets of board papers that date back to November of last year, when the risk was first escalated.

Another extreme risk highlighted in the report is delays to children’s serious case reviews. These are typically undertaken by the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, a partnership between the council, CCG and police, when a child dies or is seriously injured under circumstances where abuse or neglect is suspected.

The report states: “Serious case reviews workload within Thurrock remains high, compared to other local authorities and CCGs, impacting on staff capacity to undertake these reviews. There remains vacancy and capacity issues.”

Again, the CCG denied the information in their own report.

“The CCG has always prioritised safeguarding and serious case review and have always met the deadlines and timeframes set by partners,” the spokesperson continued.

“The staff vacancies have been addressed. Recruitment process is in place, The CCG has recruited into vacant posts and staff will be starting shortly.”

These details have emerged four months after a safeguarding barrister said whistleblowing claims that Thurrock Council’s children’s services department covered up failings over the death of a toddler were “unsubstantiated”. A serious case review is now underway.

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