The news that the CQC intends to look at the medical files of vulnerable children as part of its GP inspection programme has excited a range of reactions, some of them predictably outraged, and a good proportion of them dissenting. Actually it’s a good approach to integrated care, if – and here things get both important and difficult – the very best practice is part of the exercise.
Children at risk are, as any number of tragic stories have evidenced, one of those groups most likely to fall through the net of service provision; thus any back-up is a good idea, and if a regulator can provide that back-up as part of its inspection regime – that is, if the regulator can ask the right questions and help towards the right outcomes – then the target group can only benefit.
At the same time, one can understand why some commentators are nervous. The issue of privacy is one aspect that ought to be troubling; the issue of patient-doctor relationships, and confidentiality even more so.
Nonetheless, the balance of things suggests that the CQC can have a positive role to play here. The ideal situation is one where the social and medical sides of care for vulnerable children are drawn together by an objective observer who is aiming to help its client groups achieve best practice; that, potentially, is what we have here.
The moral of the safeguarding story is, or ought to be: do things that help, and help to ensure safeguarding is part of a properly integrated approach; but listen to those dissenting and doubting voices, and learn from them.