Children in hospital or receiving hospital services

Children who are in hospital or receiving other hospital services should have their overall welfare safeguarded and promoted in the same manner as all other children.

Overview 

Hospitals should take all reasonable steps to ensure that children are cared for in secure children’s wards and are provided with suitable adult supervision and care. Wherever possible, children should be consulted about where they would prefer to stay in hospital and their views should be taken into account and respected.

Child likely to be Hospital over three months

Where it is believed that a child will remain in hospital or be accommodated by a Health Trust for longer than three months, children’s social care are to be informed so that they can assess the child’s needs and decide whether services are required under the Children Act 1989.

Child where there are concerns for child’s care on discharge

No child known to children’s social care who is an inpatient in hospital, and about whom there are concerns over his/her safety and welfare, is to be allowed to leave hospital until it has been established by children’s social care that the home environment is safe, the concerns of the medical and nursing staff have been fully addressed, and there is a social work plan in place for the ongoing promotion and safeguarding of the child’s welfare.

Communication by Doctors

All doctors involved in the care of a child, about whom there are concerns about possible deliberate harm, must provide children’s social care with a written statement of the nature and extent of their concerns. If misunderstandings of a medical diagnosis occur, these must be corrected at the earliest opportunity in writing. It is the responsibility of the doctor to ensure that his or her concerns are properly understood.

Child with Child Protection Plan who has an Unplanned Admission to Hospital

If a child, who is subject to a Child Protection Plan, has an unplanned admission to hospital, children’s social care should be notified without delay by the Ward senior staff member.

The Key Worker/Team Manager should seek as much clarity as possible regarding the reasons for the unplanned hospital admission. Unless it can clearly be shown that the admission was not due to a lack of care or to inflicted harm, a Core Group meeting is to be held prior to the child’s discharge. This meeting should be chaired by the Team Manager.

Child who Ingests Illegal/Prescribed Substances

Where a child requires hospital treatment due to an ingested illegal/prescribed substance e.g. Methadone, an immediate referral is to be made to children’s social care, who in turn are to contact the Police Child Abuse Investigation Unit without delay. The need for urgency of response in terms of the child’s welfare, the safety of other children in the house, initial assessment of the care by the parents and the home conditions and obtaining forensic evidence is of paramount importance.

Refusal by Child of Medical Assessment/ Treatment

Any staff faced with a situation where a child/young person’s life may be in danger because of his/her refusal to accept medical assessment and/or treatment, should contact children’s social care as a matter of urgency.

The Team Manager should, without delay, liaise with Legal Services and determine whether an application should be made to the Court for an order to obtain the medical assessment and/or treatment.

Non-medical Supervision

Where a child is in hospital and the child requires supervision on non-medical grounds, it is the responsibility of children’s social care to arrange that supervision.