Guidance on Health Assessments for Looked After Children in Scotland

This guidance has been produced to assist those involved in carrying out health assessments of our looked after children and young people. It sets out the minimum standardised elements of a health care pathway which we would expect Boards to implement in collaboration with local authorities and other organisations.

Purpose and Aims of Guidance

Scottish Health Boards are required by the Scottish Government (through Chief Executive Letter 16, 2009) to provide all children who become looked after children with a health assessment within 4 weeks of notification.

This guidance has been developed to assist NHS Boards and local authorities with the discharge of that obligation. It sets out the process that should be followed, and provides a template for the health assessment itself (including details of the specific data which should be recorded). The guidance will be of interest to anyone involved in organising or delivering health assessments to looked after children, including strategic and operational managers in health and local authority children's services, public health colleagues, doctors, nurses and social workers.

The guidance applies to all territorial health boards and local authorities in Scotland.

The aims of this guidance are:

  • To ensure that every looked after child or young person receives a comprehensive health assessment within four weeks of the NHS Board receiving notification (that an individual has become 'looked after').
  • To provide strategic and operational managers in NHS Boards with information and advice in respect to planning and delivering holistic health assessments for looked after children (in the context of Getting it Right for Every Child).
  • To provide healthcare professionals with a practical guide to completing a health assessment for a looked after child or young person, by stating what aspects of health should be assessed.
  • To ensure that the health assessment provided to looked after children and young people is delivered consistently across Scotland, in respect to both content and approach.
  • To suggest items for a comprehensive data set on looked after children's health, to be collected at local level.

As a corporate parent, NHS Boards should view the looked after children's health assessment as an opportunity to assess an individual's overall health and wellbeing, including behavioural and emotional development and risk taking behaviour.

Compliance with this guidance will be monitored through regular multi‑agency inspection, carried out by the Care Inspectorate, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and their partners. The Scottish Government may also monitor provision and access to health assessments for looked after children at various intervals.

This guidance has been written by the Scottish Government working group on 'Health Assessments for Looked After Children'. The group was chaired by the Scottish Government's Senior Medical Officer (Children and Young People), and included representatives from nursing, general practice, paediatrics and health service commissioners. The guidance fulfils a commitment made by Scottish Government in the Chief Executive Letter 16, 2009, to provide a template health assessment for looked after children.


Email: Carolyn Younie

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