Medical examinations are undertaken:
- to establish the nature of the injury/ies and identify whether treatment is necessary.
- to ascertain the future safety of the child.
- for evidential purposes and to aid the investigation.
- to satisfy the child and carer that there is no long-term physical damage.
Unless in exceptional circumstances, e.g. a second expert opinion is needed there should only be one medical examination.
All medical examinations for children who are not already being examined or treated in a hospital will be carried out in the Rainbow suite at Alder Hey hospital. Children who are already in a hospital setting (e.g. Whiston Hospital) will be examined in that hospital.
Where the allegation contains intra-familial physical or sexual abuse, consideration must be given to the medical examination of all children within the family.
Where the alleged offender is the carer or has close contact with children other than the victim, consideration should also be given to a medical examination of those children. Those with knowledge of the family will provide advice to the strategy meeting on the need for such a medical of any other children
Consent for the medical should be obtained from the child, and the person who has parental responsibility. If consent is refused by the child or carer, or no one with parental responsibility is available, further discussions should be held with a senior manager with a view to seeking legal advice.
Clear explanation must be given to the child and parent[s]/carer[s] about the proposed medical, including the venue, time and gender of the doctor.
Where an allegation of sexual abuse has been made, the examination will be conducted by a paediatrician and sometimes jointly with a forensic medical examiner.
Where the allegation is of physical abuse, the injuries are serious, and/or the child is below three years of age, the examination will be conducted by a paediatrician and forensic medical examiner.
In all other cases examination by a forensic medical examiner alone may be sufficient.
Once the child has been taken to the venue for the medical examination, the child should not have to wait to be seen for longer than two hours, or beyond his/her normal bedtime.
Children should be supported during the medical by a person with whom they feel comfortable.
There may be situations where a medical examination has been requested by the young person/carer, and in such circumstances the examination should be conducted without undue delay.
When Police officers attend at one of the children’s hospitals as part of an investigation, they should be sensitive to the setting. They should only interview parties at a designated interview/medical examination suite. Only when unavoidable, and in an extreme emergency should interviews be conducted on the hospital ward. The same criteria should be considered before effecting any arrest.
If a child is admitted to hospital Form CP5 will be completed and a copy left in the child’s notes.