Safeguarding children

Health services have a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people, as set out in the Children Acts of 1989 and 2004. Safeguarding children is defined in national guidance as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment;
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes (Working Together 2018)

A person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to prevent harm.  Children and young people may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

Because of the range and spread of health services, practitioners are in a good position not only to recognise situations that may indicate that a child is ‘at risk’ of maltreatment, but also to offer early help where there are concerns about the welfare of a child.

An excellent resource for GPs (from the RCGP and NSPCC) is the Safeguarding Children and Young People: A Toolkit for General Practice that helps to benchmark practice and to ensure that all practice staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

For more information go to the new Sussex-wide Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures website:

Concerned for someone's safety?

If you have concerns about a child call:

  • Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) – 01403 229900 or email:
  • MASH referrals: West Sussex MASH – 01403 229900. Urgent out of hours calls regarding children or young people - 0330 222 6664. Contact an approved mental health professional out of hours to consider an urgent Mental Health Act Assessment for all age groups - 01903 843239.
  • What to do if you are worried a child is being abused - download the flowchart
  • West Sussex Social Services out of hours urgent calls regarding Children or young people - please ring 0330 222 6664
  • Approved Mental Health Professional to consider an urgent Mental Health Act Assessment for all age groups - please ring  01903 843239

Useful resources