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Shortage of abuse specialists

The number of doctors specially trained to carry out examinations of abused youngsters is likely to fall significantly in the next few years, a report has warned.

There are currently 42 paediatricians across Scotland who provide forensic services, examining children who have been victims of abuse and collecting any evidence.

But an expert group has said that maintaining a "competent specialist workforce" in this area will be challenging.

The group, which includes doctors as well as senior figures from the police and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, examined access to specialist medical staff with expertise in child protection.

While they said there were 31 consultants and 11 speciality doctors providing forensic services at the moment, their report warned that the age range of these staff suggests a shortage will occur in the next five to 10 years.

The group has now recommended that all health boards should identify at least one consultant paediatrician with a special interest in child protection.

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