Caring, sharing and preparing

NHS England’s Director of Nursing looks back on the eight months since the Child Protection – Information Sharing system was launched:

Last year, history was made with the launch of the Child Protection – Information Sharing system (CP-IS), the first national system of its kind.

CP-IS flags children identified as vulnerable by social services to NHS staff if they attend A&E, an outpatient department or other unscheduled care settings, and also unborn children who are subject to a child protection plan.

Having chaired the programme board that brought about CP-IS, and as professional lead in relation to safeguarding, I have been pleased and encouraged to see its spread and the increasing awareness of it, and I welcome the decision to employ a full-time clinical lead for CP-IS at NHS England.

A number of Local Authorities and NHS sites have gone live with CP-IS, including Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals. Health professionals in those Trusts who have implemented CP-IS are already seeing the benefits,  by identifying children on a Child Protection Plan, Looked After Child status and the mothers of an unborn child on a Child Protection Plan.

Some clinicians are identifying children who are vulnerable and at-risk presenting from out of area, something they would not previously have been able to do.

It is important that NHS Trusts and Local Authorities drive forward with their implementation plans for CP-IS to ensure that a greater cohort of children can be protected.  Adopting a new system requires planning and changes, but every time an at-risk child is identified, this makes all the effort worthwhile. When information is not shared, children and young people can be placed at further risk.

We are working with all Designated Professionals to support implementation and benefits realisation and will shortly be issuing Designated Professionals Guidance. We are also working with designated safeguarding leads in CCGs to encourage and support their providers as they implement CP-IS in partnership with the relevant Local Authorities, ensuring an approach that bridges health and social care.

CP-IS is also included in the NHS Standard Contract for 2015/16, requiring providers to take steps towards implementing it and to liaise with local partners.  In addition ISN ISB1609 – Child Protection – Information Sharing (CP-IS) was published on 7 July.

Child protection is, of course, about far more than having systems or procedures. It requires commitment, compassion and vigilance, demonstrated every day by so many health and social care staff and others. Their actions, often behind-the-scenes, deserve all our thanks.

To safeguard a child is to safeguard the future.

Hilary Garratt

Hilary Garratt CBE, BSc, MSc, RGN, RHV, PGCE is the Director of Nursing in NHS England and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England.

Hilary leads a nursing and midwifery team in NHS England that focuses on a number of national statutory functions and professional development priority areas.

She is a registered Nurse and Health Visitor with over 30 years’ experience of working in the NHS. Hilary has held a number of director posts and a deputy chief executive post in both Commissioning and Provision and has been working at National Director level for the last four years.

From 2013 – 2017 Hilary also volunteered for BBC Children in Need and was a committee member that undertook grant making for the North of England. She is also a trustee of a charity, “Giving to Gambia” and enjoys working in the Gambia for a short time each year as a volunteer to support initiatives that improve health and wellbeing.

Hilary worked in the Calais refugee camp in 2016 and witnessed the reality of individuals, living through unimaginable trauma. She saw children being lured into the hands of criminals for want of a better life and seeing this first hand brought home the sheer importance of the NHS and other organisations across the health and care system working together to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Hilary received a CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for services to nursing, particularly her work to safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in society

Follow Hilary on Twitter: @HilaryGarratt.

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