There are major weaknesses in the way vulnerable children and young people are supported and cared for in Orkney, according to inspectors.
The leadership of children’s services in Orkney was deemed unsatisfactory by the Care Inspectorate, which felt more work was needed to meet the needs of children.
Some children and young people experienced “physical neglect for too long” before they were given alternative care arrangements, the report said.
It also found that staff involved were “not confident in the effectiveness of local child protection arrangements”.
The inspection looked at services provided by the Orkney Partnership – made up of NHS Orkney, the local authority, Police Scotland and charities.
Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “A significant amount of work is needed to reduce the risks created by inconsistencies in key child protection processes.”
The health board accepted that it needed to make improvements.
Gerry O’Brien, chief executive of NHS Orkney, said: “Considerable improvement is clearly needed. The inspectors set out recommendations we will follow to set a clear path for improvement – a path that will be closely monitored by the Care Inspectorate to make sure we do this as effectively and as rapidly as possible.
“It must be noted, however, that inspectors also found good practice already in place. As we develop our improvement plan – and look to other agencies to see what works well there – we will ensure that this work is maintained and enhanced.”
The report found that the Orkney partnership would need additional support and expertise if it was to make improvements.
John Mundell, interim chief executive of Orkney Islands Council, said: “Acting on this report and making the necessary improvements is an absolute priority for all involved.
“This work is already underway and will strengthen, change and improve future arrangements and practice and result in more effective inter-agency working in providing care and protection for children and young people.”