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Child protection: the medical assessment – a parent and child’s guide

Read our guide below to help you understand:

  • what a medical assessment is
  • where it takes place
  • who’ll see
  • what you can expect.

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

We understand it’s a difficult time for parents and children. If you can, talk to your child before the assessment about what might happen.

It’s important that you:

  • understand what’s happening
  • feel listened to, as well as your child’s views
  • get help and advice on the best way you and your child can feel supported.

What is a medical assessment?

It’s when a children’s doctor (paediatrician) has been asked to check your child for any signs of harm.

This involves the doctor talking to you and your child and examining your child.

Why is this necessary and what needs to happen?

A medical examination has been requested as concerns have been raised about your child.

A social worker or a police officer will lead the investigation.

A specially trained senior children’s doctor (paediatrician) will examine your child for signs of harm.

You’ll need to give permission (consent) before the examination can happen.

Your child can consent if:

  • they’re old enough
  • can understand what they’re consenting to.

Other children in the family may also need an examination if they’re considered at risk.

What happens if I don’t agree to the medical examination?

If you or your child don’t give consent to the examination, and the social worker and/or police feel an examination’s in your child’s best interest, they’ll discuss this with you. If they feel it’s necessary, they may get a court order giving them permission to interview or medically examine your child, without your consent.

If your child is old enough or has enough understanding to give consent, they can do so. The doctor will decide if this is possible.

Where does the assessment take place?

Usually on the Children’s Day Unit (CDU Ward 11) at Wycombe Hospital.

In certain circumstances it may happen at Stoke Mandeville Hospital either in:

  • the Children’s Emergency Department leading to the Children’s Observation Unit
  • Ward 3, Children’s Ward.

When you arrive in the reception area you’ll meet the receptionist/nurse. They’ll tell the doctor you’ve arrived.

What will happen at the assessment and who’ll be there?

A nurse will take your child’s details and then take weight and height measurements.

A paediatrician will see your child. There may be other people there as well to help with the assessment. Everyone involved will introduce themselves to you.

Your social worker/police may or may not be there as well.

The doctor will ask you and your child questions about what’s happened so far before they check your child for any signs of harm. If you have any questions, you can ask the doctor at the time. The doctor may also speak to the social worker or police officer involved in the case.

Sometimes with older children we’ll ask you if you’re happy that we speak to them by themselves.

As well as asking about your child’s day to day health. regular medication and allergies, they’ll also ask about :

  • any illness your child has had
  • their birth history
  • their development
  • immunisations (jabs)
  • their behaviour and progress at school
  • the family history.

Your child will then have a full general examination (top to toe).

If your child has any obvious injuries, the paediatrician will document, measure and draw them in your child’s record. They may take photos of any injuries or wounds with your consent and will inform you first.

Your child may need more specific investigations or tests. We’ll discuss this with you at the time.

What should I bring to the appointment?

This includes:

  • your child’s medical records
  • their favourite toys or books
  • a snack or drink for your child
  • a list of any concerns or questions you have.

What happens afterwards?

At the end of the assessment the doctor will explain what will happen next to you and your social worker.

The doctor will then write a report and send it to your GP and social services/police. This report and the hospital records may be used as evidence in court if necessary.

Reducing associated healthcare infections

Find out how you can help to reduce healthcare associated infections when visiting hospital

More help or advice

Contact our patient advice and liaison service (PALS) on 01296 316042 or

About our patient information

This patient advice is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but please note that it is subject to change.

Always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.