Management of Child Protection Assessments on Open Cases where Children are Admitted to John Radcliffe Hospital
There is an existing protocol for the management of Section 47 investigations in relation to open cases. In such cases the area Children's Assessment Team would be notified of an incident e.g. an allegation against a foster carer or against another child in the placement. In such cases their role is to convene a strategy meeting and chair it. They may or may not be actively involved in the investigation but would also provide advice and support to those who were. They would also review the action plan and ensure the investigation was completed appropriately.
2. JR Hospital
This protocol is designed to clarify roles and responsibilities and to affect a clear pathway for the exchange of good communication, expert opinion and information. The protocol covers children who are open cases to Area Assessment, Family Support, Children's Disability and Looked After Children teams who are admitted to hospital with a serious injury. Children attending outpatient clinics or being seen in the Emergency Dept with minor cuts and bruises will not normally be dealt with under the terms of this protocol. Good sense and judgement must prevail and discussions can be held, to establish the seriousness of such incidents in order to agree a way forward.
As is currently the practice, staff in the Assessment Team based at the JRH are able to assist community Social Workers seeking information and clarification from medical and nursing staff and from health records held at the hospitals. They can act as a link between the hospital and fieldwork teams.
Should a child be admitted to hospital with an injury which appears to be non-accidental the hospital team will either be notified by or will notify the key worker immediately.
If the child is to return home or to a placement, the hospital team will provide a liaison role and assist with the collection of information as previously described.
Should the injury be significant and warrant a Section 47 investigation the hospital team will be responsible for the management of the investigation.
They will convene and chair strategy meetings which will include relevant hospital staff and the police. The key worker or someone else from the fieldwork team (TM or SP) will also attend; advise on and help arrange other relevant attendees; share relevant information and be involved in the planning process.
The hospital team may complete the investigations where appropriate but will always act as liaison between fieldwork staff and medical/nursing staff in relation to good communication, the exchange of information and the clarification of decisions and plans.
They will review the strategy action plan and ensure that the investigation is completed in a timely and appropriate way.
They will ensure the child/young person has a safe discharge and where appropriate meet with foster carers and provide relevant information.
They will ensure that the relevant paperwork is completed i.e. strategy form/strategy review and update FW1. Should a member of the hospital team undertake the investigation, they will, in consultation with the key worker, prepare a report for conference.
The key worker will facilitate the medical examination and interview of siblings, explore placement options and arrange these where necessary. This will include family and friends placements.
Should legal proceedings be deemed necessary to protect the child, the key worker would prepare the report in consultation with the hospital team. If the case needs to be discussed at the legal panel, the key worker will attend, having a more extensive knowledge of the background and wider family situation.
Any financial support required would come from the key team's budget (following discussion between Team Managers)
They will notify all parties i.e. health professionals and community social workers when their role is ended.
Hospital staff will not be involved in case management. This remains the responsibility of the key worker. However, the hospital TM will take responsibility for decisions related to the investigation. This will usually be done in consultation with the key team Team Manager but in emergencies this may not always be possible.
In situations where there may be a difference of opinion, and Team Managers are unable to reach resolution, the matter should be passed to the relevant Area Social Care Manager.There will be times when the JRH Team manager is unavailable to Chair a strategy meeting on an open case. It may be possible for a Senior Practitioner in the team to take on this responsibility depending on their commitments and the complexity of the case. In these situations the appropriate Area Assessment Team Manager would be asked to assist. The JR team duty officer will be able to help with information gathering and liaison with medical/nursing staff.