Child protection advocacy

We aim to improve health outcomes through advocacy for children, young people and their families.

Equal protection from assault

In England and Northern Ireland, children are the only group of people not fully protected in law from physical assault. Our report, Equal protection from assault in England and Northern Ireland: Prohibiting physical punishment of all children, demonstrates to Government policymakers the practicalities of removing the ‘reasonable punishment defence’ from law and the appropriate next steps.

Rights to access healthcare for migrant and/or undocumented children

In November 2020, RCPCH published guidance highlighting the barriers that currently exist for certain migrant and/or undocumented children with regards to access to healthcare and attainment of a healthy life. This is in the context of recent increase in efforts to charge certain migrant and/or undocumented groups using NHS services.

RCPCH joins the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in supporting the suspension of NHS charging regulations and an independent review set up by Government to measure the impact these regulations have had – see the AoMRC statement on NHS charges to overseas visitors regulations (PDF) from March 2019.

Medical experts in the family courts

RCPCH joined the Family Justice Council’s Working Group on Medical Experts in the Family Courts to address the shortage of medical expert witnesses in Family Court proceedings.

Expert evidence is often necessary in order to decide cases justly; therefore, the reduction in available experts presents a serious problem. In October 2020, a report was published making recommendations aimed at reducing the shortage, and we continue to work to implement these.

Use of pain inducing techniques in the youth secure estate

RCPCH contributed to the Ministry of Justice’s review of the inclusion of pain inducing techniques in the Use of Force policy framework. ‘Pain inducing’ refers to techniques that are designed to cause pain and work by deliberately inflicting pain. In a letter to Mr Charlie Taylor, we recommend that pain inducing restraint techniques are a form of child abuse, violate children’s rights and must be prohibited. Preventative approaches and de-escalation should be used to manage challenging behaviour and physical restraint should only be used when it is absolutely necessary.

In 2019, RCPCH published ‘Healthcare standards for children and young people in secure settings‘, which provide guidance to ensure that young people receive care they need to improve their health outcomes.

Abusive head trauma

RCPCH published this critique of a systematic review on ‘isolated traumatic shaking’ in infants conducted by The Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU). The critique highlights a flawed methodology in the systematic review. It is available through Archives of Diseases in Childhood.

Long term support for victims of modern slavery

RCPCH joined 28 other charities in co-signing a letter from child trafficking charity ECPAT UK, which called on the Home Secretary to reform the support provided to all children identified as victims of modern slavery in the UK. The letter followed the high-profile case of ‘Stephen’, a 17 year old who lost his automatic right to remain in the UK and faced deportation to Vietnam. ‘Stephen’ was trafficked to the UK at 10 years of age to work on a cannabis farm and was taken into foster care at 16 years of age.

RCPCH wrote to Rt Hon Frank Field MP to express support for the launch of the inquiry into long-term support for victims of modern slavery.

Joint hypermobility syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in children

Representatives of RCPCH and the British Society of Rheumatology, Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology responded to an editorial by Grahame (2017). The response expresses concern that the editorial is misleading to suggest that professionals can attribute functional difficulties and physical signs of harm to a diagnosis of hEDS. It is available through Rheumatology.

Bruises in premobile children

RCPCH released this statement in response to an article by Bilson (2016), which suggested over investigation of bruises in babies. The statement directs paediatricians to evidence provided within the RCPCH systematic review on abusive- and non-abusive bruising.