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A report written by NSPCC, the Royal College of GPs and researchers from the University of Surrey and University College London, states family doctors are ideally placed to spot early warning signs of child abuse.
The report states:
GPs should be given more responsibility to spot cases of child abuse to help prevent the "acute pressure" social services faces in dealing with the problems, a children's charity has said.
The NSPCC claims family doctors are often only seen as a referral service to pass cases along to social services.
However, GPs could do more to help children and families at risk if they were given more autonomy, time and support, they added.
The NSPCC said that GPs could contribute a new "public health approach" that could reduce the number of children needing to enter the child protection system.