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Fabricated and Induced Illnesses

The prevalence and impact of allegations of FII (a term adopted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCHP) to replace ‘Munchausen syndrome by proxy’)

The findings of a major research project concerning the prevalence and impact of FII allegations has been published by the Cerebra Legal Entitlements and Problem-solving (LEaP) Project based at the School of Law, Leeds University.

The research involved an analysis of data obtained from a survey of 387 parent carers, freedom of information requests and on-line searches of local authority websites.

The Report’s ‘Key Messages’

  • The major finding of the research is one of family trauma. The making of an FII allegation often causes devastating and life-long trauma to those accused and to their children. 
  • FII allegations against parents of disabled children appear to be widespread and increasing. Parents in at least 74% of English children’s services authorities have experienced FII allegations – and authorities in Scotland and Wales were also reported as initiating allegations of this nature.
  • Disabled parents appear to be four times more likely to be accused of FII than non-disabled parents – suggesting a significant risk of widespread unlawful discrimination against disabled people.
  • 50% of allegations of FII were made after a parent carer had complained about the actions of the relevant public body.
  • Most FII allegations (84%) resulted in no follow up-action or were abandoned and in 95% of the cases the child(ren) remained living with the parent.
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) 2021 FII guidance is likely to give rise to a very high number of ‘false positives’ (people being wrongly accused of FII).
  • NHS practitioners were the source of most FII allegations, followed by schools and then local authority children’s services.

The full report is available here.

Index of all pages: