The Fostering Network welcomes the joint statement from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA), and also the joint statement from RCGP Cymru Wales and BMA Cymru Wales, which encourage GPs to deliver vital medicals for prospective foster carer assessments. As GP practices have been rightly focused on COVID-19 and the vaccination programme, medicals have been subject to significant delays which in turn have impacted on services’ capacity to place children with potential foster carers.
A particular issue for our members in England and Wales, since September 2020 we have increasingly heard of the difficulties of securing medical reports to meet the current requirements for foster carer approval. Fostering services have reported that these difficulties have been a combination of Coronavirus regulatory amendments and increasing pressure on GPs during the pandemic and vaccine rollout.
In a survey of our members conducted in February this year, we heard that for assessments started after 25 September 2020:
Based on these figures we believe the actual number of placements unavailable for children nationally to be much higher, due to the delays in completing foster carer approvals.
As part of the assessment of prospective foster carers it is important to ensure that considerations are given to physical and mental health. Gathering this information will inform the wider assessment and review process, identifying the strengths that applicants may bring and balancing their ability to provide quality of family life with being aware of their overall physical and mental health. These delays have added to existing pressures on services where new foster families are in demand, potentially delaying the right family for a child. The Fostering Network believes that every effort needs to be made to support the process prior to approval.
While we welcome these statements and hope they go some way to alleviate some of the difficulties currently being experienced by fostering services, we will continue to monitor this through our membership and hope that it marks the beginning of a relationship between RCGP, BMA and the fostering sector.
The Fostering Network wants to hear from its members about the experiences they have had accessing medicals during the pandemic, and whether this improves over the coming months following this week’s statement. Please contact email@example.com if you have an experience you would like to share in relation to this issue.
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