GPs urged to place obese children in care

The GPC has condemned Local Government Association (LGA) plans to hand GPs a role in increasing the number of obese children placed into care.

The LGA has warned that the number of children removed from their parents will have to increase to combat rising rates of obesity. It says that GPs will have to sign off decisions to place obese children in care.

'We have not yet drawn up official guidelines about GP involvement, but we are looking to do so,' an LGA spokesman said.

Child Growth Foundation chairman Tam Fry backed the LGA plans: 'I think the LGA's proposal is reasonable.'

Some obese children should be supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week, away from home by someone with weight management expertise, he said.

'Certainly the GP must be involved in signing off the removal of a child. There must be a clinical element to this,' he added.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'I don't think obesity is increasing at such a level that removing more obese children from their parents' care is required. I don't think the LGA's position is helpful. Every case should be treated on its own merits.'

He said GPs have a role to play, but cases should remain rare. 'Their role would be part of a multi-agency one, involving social care, health visitors and possibly school nurses. They would provide reports or advice in line with standard child protection cases.'

Dr Ian Scott, Nottingham GP and former National Obesity Forum president added: 'I don't think it would be appropriate for a GP to have a role in removing the child in this instance, because I can't ever envisage a case where a child would be taken into care solely because of their obesity.'

Last year, obesity was a factor in at least 20 child protection cases. It is estimated that by 2012, one million children in England will be obese.

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