Practices have been urged to reinstate medical assessments for people applying to be foster carers and adopters – amid concern that vulnerable children are being left waiting for new homes.
Medical organisations said practices should undertake the assessments “where possible.”
The Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association say that many practices and applicants have deferred assessments because of the pressures of the pandemic. This has been aided by the Department for Education, which has introduced a temporary change of rules allowing assessments to be undertaken at a late state in the process for approval of foster carers and adopters. The changes have been extended until the end of September.
A joint statement from the two medical organisations says: “The temporary regulations do not remove the need for medical reports as they still must be obtained before the relevant agency can come to a decision on the suitability of the prospective adopters and foster carers. These medical assessments are an important safeguard for both the adults and the children, and they are a statutory requirement. A final decision cannot be made without a medical report being obtained and considered as part of the suitability assessment.”
The statement goes on: “The RCGP and the BMA recognise that the requirement for GP practices to continue to offer adult health assessments for these patients is pressure on an already stretched service. However, they are necessary to maintain sufficient safe placements for vulnerable children. We would like to encourage GP practices to undertake these assessments where possible.”