Table 3

Comparison of our findings with study by Tompsett et al20

Four roles outlined by Tompsett et alRelevant findings from our study
SimilaritiesWhat our study adds
The case holder: GP has on-going relationship with family before, during and after referral to children's social care. This role builds on voluntary disclosure and establishing trust over time with the parents. This role was clearly identified by GPs but not recognised so much by the stakeholdersComparable to the role that GPs in the sample described in relation to ‘stable at this point’, ‘on the edge’ and ‘was it, wasn't it?’ families, both in the on-going nature of the relationship with families and in the reliance on voluntary disclosure and trust by parents. This was the most commonly described role by the GPs in our sampleThis role might be performed most commonly where
▸ Families had multiple health problems (including those caused by child neglect) which
▸ Provided a reason for repeated contact
▸ Legitimised GP intervention in child safeguarding concerns
▸ Offered opportunity for establishing trust and reciprocity and encourage help-seeking behaviours by meeting high need
▸ GPs perceived that children's social care was not/not likely to offer appropriate services
▸ GPs could construct concerns as due to ‘incompetent’ (rather than ‘malicious’ parenting) which allowed sympathy with the parents and facilitated on-going GP involvement
These factors were typical of families who prompted concerns about chronic neglect
The ‘case-holder’ role also included monitoring, coaching, advocating and providing opportune preventive healthcare
The sentinel: GP identifies child maltreatment and refers the concern to children's social care or other health servicesComparable to the role for families with ‘fairly straightforward’ concerns (infrequently described). Here concerns were referred onwards with no further involvementThis role might be performed most commonly where
  • GPs perceived that other agencies responded (or would respond) appropriatelyThis was typically in cases of concerns about physical abuse or, less frequently, an episode of acute neglect

The gatekeeper: GP provides information to other agencies so that those agencies can make decisions about access to servicesThis role was not directly comparable to any described by the GPs in the sampleThe GPs did offer information to children's social care, especially for ‘stable at this point’ families. However, this information was unprompted and resulted from on-going monitoring and risk assessment for families with a history of very serious child-maltreatment concerns who had achieved a fragile stability
Multiagency team player: GP has continued engagement with other professionals outside the practice. This role is fulfilled when GP contributes actively to children's social care child protection processesComparable to the few instances in which GPs described working with children's social care and actively participating in their child protection processesThis role might be performed most commonly where
  • GPs knew the families well and did not trust children's social care to offer appropriate services AND

  • GPs perceive that there were medical issues giving them a unique medical perspective

  • GP, general practitioner.