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New alert system to spot abused and neglected children goes live

System connects emergency care, out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres and local authorities

Caroline White

Friday, 28 November 2014

A new alert system to help clinicians spot children experiencing abuse and neglect has gone live today in the first two hospitals in England.

Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  in east London and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust are the first hospitals in the country to use the new Child Protection-Information Sharing (CP-IS) system, which is designed to prevent repeats of the Baby P case.

The system, which is set to be rolled out across the entire country by 2018, connects emergency departments, out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres, and local authorities throughout England.

When a child is seen in one of these care settings, a flag will automatically appear on the child's record if they are subject to a child protection plan or are being cared for by a local authority.

Doctors and nurses will also be able to see whether such children have frequently attended emergency departments or urgent care centres over a period of time, which can also be an indication of neglect or abuse.

NHS staff are often the first people to see victims of abuse and neglect. But child protection information was not automatically shared, and medical staff and social services were unable to see if a child had made multiple emergency department visits.

This system will bring information into one place for clinicians to access and allow NHS staff to alert children's social services if they believe a child is at risk.

Only authorised NHS staff involved with the care of the child will be able to access the non-clinical data, which will be accessed electronically.

Non-clinical information about whether a child is subject to a child protection plan is statutory and is available on a need-to-know basis to all public bodies involved with the care of a child.

The programme was developed by the Department of Health but is now run by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), in partnership with local authorities, NHS organisations, the Department of Health and the Department for Education.

Speaking at the launch, health minister, Dan Poulter, said: "As a practicing NHS doctor, I understand the importance of health and care professionals working together and sharing the right information to stop tragedies like Baby P being repeated. This new child protection information sharing system will help to stop children at risk of abuse slipping through the net with tragic consequences.”

He added: "Where a child is at risk of abuse, frontline NHS staff in accident and emergency departments and other urgent care settings, will now, for the first time, have access to this easy to use system, helping them to step in, and take action to protect vulnerable and neglected children."

Andy Williams, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, added: "Connecting information can play a huge part in improving safety by helping NHS and social care workers to identify and support vulnerable children. We have combined a new technological solution with data already collected, to make a real difference to patients and the health and social care system."

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