NHS Wales backtracks over FOI revelations

Two NHS bodies in Wales have hit out at Be Reasonable for publishing information provided by them on their approach to the proposed smacking ban.

Freedom of information (FOI) requests to Cwm Taf University Health Board and Public Health Wales revealed that the groups would treat smacking like abuse if the law were to change.

The FOIs implied that doctors and nurses who smacked their children could face suspension from their jobs and criminal investigations.

Today, the Western Mail quoted officials from Cwm Taf and Public Health Wales in an article entitled: ‘Pro-smacking group accused of sensationalising NHS information’.

The article fails to cite the actual contents of the FOIs. You can read them for yourself below.

A spokesman for Public Health Wales is quoted claiming, “Be Reasonable selectively misquotes, distorts and sensationalises” its response.

Similarly, a spokesman for Cwm Taf University Health Board says its FOI has been “misconstrued and sensationalised”.

We are disappointed that Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf University Health Board are trying to backtrack on information they were forced to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Cwm Taf University Health Board response said a complaint about a staff member “would be dealt with in the same way as any other complaint of abuse / neglect made against a staff member using the Safeguarding Board policies and procedures.”

It stated: “It is already a statutory duty to report child protection concerns to the Local Authority and if the defence of reasonable chastisement is removed, smacking will become one of those concerns.”

It said: “All allegations of abuse or neglect are investigated by the Local Authority and the Police. The UHB has a duty to co-operate with those investigations. In Cwm Taf all such allegations would be managed via the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and the UHB is one of the partner agencies.”

The FOI response from Public Health Wales said: “In relation to the possible introduction of a smacking ban in Wales following the consultation, any allegations of abuse of any staff in Public Health Wales will be dealt with by following the All Wales Child Protection Procedures (2008) and the All Wales Procedure for NHS Staff to raise concerns.”

The responses clearly show that, should a smacking ban be introduced, both bodies would approach a staff member who smacks their child in the same way as a staff member accused of child abuse.

We deny sensationalising or misconstruing the information in the FOI responses and we have published them in full on our website so ordinary parents can judge for themselves (Public Health Wales FOI/Cwm Taf FOI).

We hope that Public Health Wales and Cwm Taf University Health Board do likewise.