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New guidance for nursing staff on safeguarding children

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The roles and responsibilities of nurses in safeguarding children are set out in new guidance for all healthcare staff launched yesterday by more than 20 professional bodies.

The intercollegiate document, published by the Royal College of Nursing on behalf of the group, details the skills and knowledge needed by of staff at all levels when it comes to keeping children safe.

“We know from some high profile cases in the past the consequences of not having the right skills and procedures in place”

Fiona Smith

This includes being able to spot potential signs of abuse and take appropriate action, as well as taking steps to prevent harm coming to children.

The guidance, which draws on research, case studies and serious case reviews, emphasises the need for healthcare staff to be clued up on different and emerging forms of abuse including child sexual exploitation, abuse on social media and modern slavery.

The updated guidance lists the key skills and knowledge required by those in different nursing roles including practice nurses, children’s nurses, health visitors, midwives, emergency care nurses, children and young people’s mental health nurses and adult mental health nurses.

For example, it highlights the role of adult mental health nurses in recognising the potential impact of a parent’s mental health condition – such as postnatal depression – on the welfare of children.

The knowledge, skills, attitude and values, and training expected of nurses in specialist roles, such as named nurses for safeguarding and safeguarding leads, are also covered, as well as the responsibilities of senior leaders and chief executives when it comes ensuring staff have the right child protection training.

The guidance, which is supported by the Royal College of Midwives, Institute of Health Visiting and School and Public Health Nursing Association among a raft of other professional bodies, has been updated to include changes to legislation and statutory guidance in England

It also now includes education and learning logs to enable nurses and others to record their learning and create a “passport” for those who move on to new jobs or other organisations.

Royal College of Nursing

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Fiona Smith

Fiona Smith RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said all staff needed to be able to recognise when someone in their care could be at risk.

“Wherever staff are working they need to be able to recognise when somebody in their care could be at risk and have the right skills and knowledge to take the appropriate action,” she said.

She said: “The importance of prevention must also not be overlooked and the guidance in this new document gives those caring for children and young people the vital learning needed to prevent harm as well as what to do should something go wrong.”

Ms Smith said tragic cases where professional had failed to spot the signs of abuse showed the importance of ensuring everyone had the right skills and training.

“We know from some high profile cases in the past the consequences of not having the right skills and procedures in place and the aim of this document is to give to give those looking after vulnerable children and young people in our society the knowledge needed to prevent such tragedies from happening again,” she added.

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