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New hospital alert system to help prevent child abuse goes live

November 28, 2014

*Joint release from the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Information Centre and NHS England

A new system to help doctors and nurses spot children suffering from abuse and neglect has successfully gone live. Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 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 help avoid tragic cases such as Baby P being repeated.

The system will now be rolled out across the country, connecting emergency departments, out of hours GPs, walk in centres and local authorities through a national system that will alert clinical staff to those at risk of abuse or neglect.


Under the new system, when a child attends one of these care settings, a flag will 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 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 workers are often the first people to see victims of abuse and neglect. However, previously 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 see the bigger picture and alert children's social services if they believe a child is at risk.

Only NHS staff involved with the care of the child will have access to the information, which is non-clinical. It will be accessed via a secure electronic system and robust rules about who has permission to view the information are in place.

The system is now linking Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire County Council and Tower Hamlets Council. All of England will be connected by 2018.

Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter, who launched the new system 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.

"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 (HSCIC) 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."

Hilary Garratt, Director of Nursing, Nurse Commissioning and Health Improvement at NHS England and sponsor for the Child Protection-Information Sharing system said: "Too often we have seen cases where children at risk of abuse have slipped through the net with tragic consequences. This system is a real step forward and will put vital information in the hands of healthcare professionals that can make a difference and help protect these vulnerable children."

Families Minister Edward Timpson said:

"Nothing is more important than keeping children safe. This innovative and proportionate system will allow hospital staff and social workers to share information about the most vulnerable children so that they get the help they need."

ENDS


Notes to editors

1. 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.

2. "The programme was developed by the Department of Health and 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."

3. For more information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5724 or the HSCIC media team on media@hscic.gov.uk or 0300 30 33 888.

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