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Safeguarding in the 70th year of the NHS

Hilary Garratt CBE Director of Nursing for NHS England and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England reflects on the recent National Safeguarding Conference and the diverse nature of safeguarding challenges and opportunities

In April we held the 5th National Safeguarding Conference, our largest event so far, with the theme of celebrating safeguarding in the 70th year of the NHS. We were honoured to be joined by a number of guest speakers who inspired and challenged in equal measure.

As the importance of safeguarding is realised across society and its many institutions, I’m pleased so say that our speakers and our audience reflected this widening safeguarding spectrum. The conference was open to not only those connected with the NHS, but to colleagues from a number of diverse organisations involved with safeguarding or those who have experienced the protection offered by our safeguarding services.

We heard from Anne Tiivas, the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit Director. Her team is helping sporting institutions implement safeguarding measures to protect vulnerable children and also help historical abuse victims bring their cases to light.

Professor Keith Brown of Bournemouth University spoke about the escalating cases of financial scamming, not just by criminals, but by legitimate organisations targeting vulnerable, older people.

Gulwali Passarlay recounted his journey as child refugee fleeing Afghanistan and the harsh treatment he suffered from not only from individuals, but also from state institutions along the way. Gulwali spoke about his realisation when reaching the UK that it was the first time he was seen and listened to as a 12 year old child, rather than a problem that needed to be simply moved on.

Penny Clough MBE, a nurse, spoke openly and bravely about the tragic murder of her daughter, Jane, who was also a nurse. Jane was murdered in a hospital car park after finishing her nursing shift by her ex-partner. Penny also spoke of her subsequent journey for justice and campaign work for policy reform to protect vulnerable women, children and young people from domestic abuse and violence. Penny highlighted how employers can and must do more to be receptive to the signs that their staff may be the victims of domestic abuse. Penny also spoke poignantly about how the NHS can do more to support members of staff who are trying to recover from such traumatic bereavements.

Terry Waite CBE spoke about his years in captivity. Terry focused on the importance of resilience when facing overwhelming adversity through sharing his insights of himself, and his captors, both during and after his captivity.

The above are but a few names of those who joined us and shared their insights. I would like to thank them and all our guest speakers.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the attendees, I, like most, left the conference feeling proud of our achievements but we can never rest on our laurels. Safeguarding risks, like the world we live in, are constantly evolving. We can only respond by learning and working together across society and when we do this well, we are best placed to help protect and support the most vulnerable in society.

The conference also provided the ideal opportunity to launch the Safeguarding Annual Update 2018, which is available download now from the link further below.

This document provides a comprehensive update on all the work areas within the national safeguarding portfolio, including key achievements and future priorities. I do recommend this document as an essential read for all those involved in health and care provision, no matter which sector you work in. We all know that safeguarding is everybody’s business.

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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