GPs must take note of warn­ing signs

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­mannsw.com.au

THE role and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of GPs to act on warn­ing signs re­lated to po­ten­tial child abuse were re­cently ex­am­ined in the UK fol­low­ing the death of four-yearold Daniel Pelka.

Two months be­fore Daniel was left to die by his mother and her part­ner, a teacher at his school rang the fam­ily’s GP to raise con­cerns about the boy’s well­be­ing.

She re­port­edly told Dr Mo­hammed Pathan that Daniel had lost weight, his skin was translu­cent, and he had been steal­ing food from other chil­dren’s school bags.

Dr Pathan told the teacher to ad­vise Daniel’s mother to con­tact the surgery and make an ap­point­ment.

How­ever, he failed to fol­low up when Daniel was not brought in, did not take proper records of the con­ver­sa­tion, and did not ex­am­ine the mother’s med­i­cal records, which would have re­vealed a history of de­pres­sion, al­co­hol abuse, and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Daniel’s mother and her part­ner were sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment for his mur­der in 2013.

The con­duct of Dr Pathan was sub­se­quently ex­am­ined by the Med­i­cal Prac­ti­tion­ers Tri­bunal Ser­vice.

While the panel found that mul­ti­ple fail­ures had been demon­strated, rep­re­sent­ing a se­ri­ous de­par­ture from ac­cept­able stan­dards of prac­tice, it did not amount to se­ri­ous mis­con­duct.

As Dr Pathan had worked for 44 years with­out any con­cerns raised, it was found that his fit­ness to prac­tise medicine was not im­paired.

They also found the doc­tor had “learned from his mis­takes” and said they did not be­lieve him to present a risk to pa­tients.

Any­one who de­liv­ers ser­vices di­rectly to chil­dren and young peo­ple, such as teach­ers, doc­tors, or even vol­un­teers with chil­dren’s ser­vices, is re­quired by law to re­port any child or young per­son they sus­pect is at risk of sig­nif­i­cant harm.

Any­one con­cerned that a child or young per­son is be­ing abused or ne­glected should call the Child Pro­tec­tion Helpline on 132 111.

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