Hospitals are supposed to be places that safeguard our health and wellbeing, but unfortunately there have been a number of cases over the years of children being abused by hospital staff while in their care.
In recognition of this, the government launched a new system at the end of 2014 to facilitate better sharing of information between health and social care professionals and help protect children at risk of abuse.
The Child Protection – Information Sharing project (CP-IS) brings together various IT systems to ensure staff have complete access to records of all of a child’s interactions with health and social care services, making it easier to recognise and support children at risk of abuse.
But what can you do if you suspect a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse?
Reporting child abuse to your local council
If you believe a child is being abused or is at risk of being abused, you can contact your local council and report the abuse. This will then be investigated by the council’s social care team.
More information on how to contact your local council to report child abuse can be found on the government’s website.
Report child abuse to the police
If you believe a child is at immediate risk of being abused in hospital, you should contact the police to trigger an urgent intervention.
Call 999 if you believe a child is being abused or is about to be abused.
Call 101 if you wish to report abuse that you believe has already taken place.
Speak to the NSPCC
If you have concerns, but are not sure what the appropriate action is to take it, you can contact the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) for advice and support.
When to report suspicions of child abuse
Many people make the mistake of waiting to report their suspicions because they are not sure whether or not abuse has taken place. This risks missing the opportunity to prevent abuse or further abuse, so it is important to take immediate action if you think a child may be at risk of abuse.
The signs of child abuse vary from case to case and can be hard to spot, but common things to look out for include:
- Unexplained changes in behaviour, such as becoming quiet, secretive or withdrawn
- Reluctance to be left alone with particular medical staff
- Use of sexual language
- Unexpected knowledge of sexual information
Take a look at the NSPCC’s website for more information on the signs of child abuse.
Claiming compensation for child abuse in a hospital
Hospitals and their staff owe a duty of care to their patients, so if you or a loved one have been the victim of abuse in a hospital or other care setting, you may be entitled to compensation. Claiming compensation is often the only way to fund the help and support you need, such as counselling, as well as helping you to cope with the other ways in which being an abuse survivor can impact your life.
If you believe you may be entitled to compensation, we recommend speaking to a legal team with specific experience handling claims related to abuse in hospitals to ensure you get the sensitive, expert support you need.