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The role of the Health Professional

Heath Visitors are regularly asked to provide information to the Children’s Reporter and may be asked to attend Children’s Hearings.

What is a health professional or practitioner?

Most health professionals work in the National Health Service (NHS) or provide services on behalf of the NHS. Health professionals or practitioners are often qualified in a particular area of health care and provide specialist knowledge and expertise in terms of advice, support and or treatment to help keep the general public in good health. Midwives, Health Visitors, School Nurses, Family Nurse Practitioners, Allied Health Professionals e.g. Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists, General Practitioners (GP’s), Dentists, Paediatricians, are all examples of health professionals.

What does the health professional or practitioner do?

NHS boards make healthcare available for everyone in the community, for example through the services provided by GP’s, Dentist, Health Visitors and others, they also provide more specialist services in the community and hospitals. Many health professionals provide healthcare services to children, young people and their families/carers. In Scotland all preschool children will have a access to a health professional called the Health Visitor who sometimes may also be called a Named Person.(please link to named persons section).

When it’s in the best interest of a child or family , health professionals work in collaboration with other professionals in education, social work, police and voluntary organisations to promote wellbeing of children and young people and ensure they are protected from harm. When health professionals have concerns about the wellbeing or safety of a child and/or young person they have a responsibility to share relevant information with other professionals.

What is the role of the health professional within the Children’s Hearings System?

Health professionals have a responsibility to support the processes in relation to the Children’s Hearings System. There are three key roles for health professional

1. To make a referral to the Children’s Reporter when they believe that a child or young person may require compulsory measures of supervision.

2. When the Children’s Reporter requests information, they share only the information that is necessary to inform and address the concern or needs identified

3. Respond to a request to attend a Hearing and or court citation.

When making a referral to the Reporter, health professionals provide relevant information about their concern. Health professionals would in the vast majority of circumstances discuss their concerns with the family prior to making a referral unless the concern required urgent attention or in their opinion to do so would put someone at risk of harm. The referral should include relevant background information which helps to inform the Children’s Reporter about the need for care or protection or the need to address a child or young person’s presenting behaviours.

Health professionals should share all relevant information they hold in order to inform decision making by a Children’s Reporter and children’s Panel Members. Information can be shared within a referral, a detailed report, in person when attending the children’s hearing, in a statement to lawyers or attendance at court. It is considered best practice for health professionals to discuss content of their report with the family.

Health professionals receiving a request to attend a Children’s Hearing should do so. If they are unable to attend they should discuss with their line manager who has a responsibility to explore alternative arrangements to ensure the relevant health information is shared at the children’s hearing. Health professionals should seek advice from their child protection department as and when necessary.

Health professionals cited to court, have a legal duty to attend. Only in exceptional circumstances would the health professional be excused from attending court. Health professionals should inform their line manager and advisor within the child protection department when they receive a citation. Internal guidance/procedures will guide the health professional regarding appropriate preparation for court attendance.

It is important that health professionals are recognised as valuable contributors to inform the Hearings System. Health professionals should adhere to local policies and procedures.

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