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Improvements at Baby P trusts noted by CQC

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NHS trusts which were heavily criticised for their failure to protect Baby P have made “significant progress”, a watchdog said today.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said satisfied systems for protecting children had improved at four trusts although work still needed to be done.

Baby Peter, from Haringey, London, had been seen by health services 35 times by the time he died in 2007 after suffering horrific abuse.

A report last year from the CQC criticised three trusts, particularly Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust.

It found system failures meant medical records were not shared between different health services and NHS workers did not properly alert social services and police to their concerns.

Since then the CQC has been closely monitoring Haringey and the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, which commissioned paediatric services from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust.

Baby Peter also attended the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust on one occasion.

The CQC made five key recommendations for improvements at the four trusts. Today, it said they had met three and had “almost met” two.

Pointing to areas where more work was needed, the CQC said staff vacancies should be closely monitored to make sure enough qualified paediatric staff were in place.

For example, staffing levels of community paediatrics at St Ann’s, Haringey, ranges from 70% to 91% of the recommended total, the CQC said.

“This fluctuation is due to staff joining, leaving and changing their hours,” the CQC said.

The vacancies, where possible, are currently being covered by the use of locums but the CQC said the trust must continue to recruit.

Furthermore, the CQC said all trusts must improve the quality of data collected about children and improvements should continue regarding information-sharing between the NHS and social services.

Cynthia Bower, the CQC’s chief executive, said: “The trusts must now maintain the momentum and continue to drive the remaining handful of improvements needed.”

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