Ahead of the 6th National Safeguarding Conference, taking place on 9 April 2019, Hilary Garratt, director of nursing for NHS England and deputy chief nursing officer for England, examines the achievements of 2018 and highlights what we can expect in 2019.
2018 was quite a year for safeguarding.
I am really grateful to all safeguarding professionals and partners who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the focus of all our work is on protecting the most vulnerable people in our society. I am also continually grateful to the many people who generously and courageously shared their lived experience of vulnerability, so we can continue to learn and act with competence and compassion.
I will be outlining these achievements in our next annual report. Meanwhile, I will highlight a few developments that have given us the opportunity to drive cultural change and develop stronger partnerships, all with the aim of achieving positive outcomes for those who need safeguarding, and enhancing the practice and work satisfaction of safeguarding colleagues.
Firstly, the national roll-out of the Child Protection–Information Sharing (CP-IS) system is nearly complete. Creating a secure connection between hundreds of IT systems from local authorities and health settings to the NHS Spine has been a huge endeavour.
We are one of the first countries in the world to give vulnerable children this extra level of protection: every time a vulnerable child on a protection plan presents at an NHS unscheduled setting, an alert is sent to the child’s or the mother’s social worker; if the child is presented at a health setting outside of their registered locality, safeguarding colleagues who can offer protection are immediately informed.
To date, the CP-IS system supports colleagues to protect over 160,000 vulnerable children. In December 2018 alone, 7,000 contacts were made by the NHS to social workers using the system.
Our Prevent programme has also made enormous strides: 80% of all NHS staff are now trained to support people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.
During 2018, NHS safeguarding colleagues helped inform the Working Together statutory guidance. The guidance supports the implementation of The Children and Social Work Act 2017, which requires the removal of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. This will give far more power and control to equal partnerships, made up of Clinical Commissioning Groups, local authorities and the local police, who will need to develop place-based safeguarding plans based on local needs.
To support health colleagues through this change, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care organised a number of regional and national round-table events. We listened and will act on feedback and concerns as we support local areas to implement the changes throughout 2019.
In 2018 we also held the 5th National Safeguarding Conference, where we celebrated safeguarding in the 70th birthday year of the NHS. We were honoured to be joined by a range of informative and engaging guest speakers, including Terry Waite CBE, who spoke about resilience in the face of adversity.
A special thank you to Penny Clough MBE, who also participated. Penny spoke with dignity and the utmost courage about the tragic circumstances that led to the murder of her daughter Jane, who was killed by her former partner. I, along with fellow delegates I’m sure, will remember the powerful impact Penny’s words had that day. Indeed, Penny’s experiences have helped us shape the NHS 2019 Domestic Violence and Abuse work programme.
So, we are now in 2019 and our safeguarding programmes continue to develop as we prepare for significant changes ahead.
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill is likely to become legislation and will have a significant impact on safeguarding and mental health professionals alike. The NHS safeguarding community will take a leading role in supporting the implementation of the reforms across health care, ensuring relevant colleagues are supported appropriately to understand what the changes mean for them and for those in their care.
One of the main events of 2019 is our 6th National Safeguarding Conference and I am happy announce that registration is now open. This year’s theme – ‘Reforms to Reality’ – will give particular focus to the legislative changes, and the practical implications these will have for safeguarding colleagues and service users. The event will be our largest conference to date, and promises to be both informative and engaging.
To register your interest, please visit the website.