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Title: An investigation of the role of paramedics in child protection
Author: Brady, James M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 6518
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2018
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In the United Kingdom (UK), revelations of child abuse on an unprecedented scale have led to calls for better detection methods. Paramedics are invited into private households and are uniquely positioned to assist with this. This study aimed to explore the role that paramedics may play in child protection with a view to informing paramedic policy, education and practice. Literature contains few empirical studies on paramedics and child protection. Legislation and policy documents acknowledge their potential contribution, but data is scant. Research is needed on their actual involvement, level of knowledge and skills. This study, undertaken in one UK ambulance service, employed a sequential mixed method design of two phases. In Phase 1, paramedics (N=276) completed a survey on their experiences, perceptions and attitudes. The resulting data informed Phase 2: paramedic focus groups (N=7). Discussions were thematically analysed. Carper’s ‘ways of knowing’ was used as a theoretical framework throughout. Findings suggest paramedics understand they have a key role to play, but lack clarity over the role. Although confident in their knowledge of physical abuse and neglect, they are less confident in their knowledge of sexual abuse (SA), childhood sexual exploitation (CSE) and female genital mutilation (FGM). More than half of respondents felt child protection referrals had not been made, that should have been. Barriers to safe practice include limited access to ‘expert’ led training; lack of feedback from social services, and lack of time. Decision making is heavily dependent on intuition. Closer working relationships between paramedicine and social services are needed. Timely bi-directional communication is vital. Training input from social services is needed if paramedics are to develop greater confidence in detecting SA, CSE, and FGM. Finally, paramedicine needs to reflect further on the challenges that can arise in prioritising the best interests of children when working with families.
Supervisor: Rees, Paul ; Davies, Ruth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral