Nurses are being urged to encourage their managers to introduce a new data-sharing system aimed at preventing child abuse, after it emerged more than two thirds of trusts are still to put it in place.
The Child Protection-Information Sharing (CP-IS) system is aimed at preventing abuse, similar to that of the high profile Baby P case, but its national implementation is well behind schedule.
“My plea for us, as safeguarding professionals, is that this is a priority”
One of the country’s most senior nurses has told Nursing Times that the roll-out of the system is a “priority” for safeguarding and called on nurses to directly lobby their managers to introduce it.
Hilary Garratt, deputy chief nursing officer for England, urged nurses to “use their influence” with nursing directors to ensure it was in place for all clinicians in emergency and out-of-hours to use.
CP-IS automatically alerts health professionals working in emergency and out-of-hours services if a child they are treating is in care or on a child protection plan with a local council.
It also tells them if they are treating a pregnant woman with a pre-birth protection plan in place, and provides the contact details of the relevant social worker.
In addition, social workers are alerted if a child attends an unscheduled healthcare setting, such as accident and emergency, out-of-hours GPs and walk-in centres.
“It is crucial that they do this – this sort of thing saves lives”
Launched in 2014, the system has been a contractual requirement for the NHS since April 2016. But only 78 of 260 NHS organisations have introduced it in at least one unscheduled healthcare setting.
Overall, out of the 1,200 settings that should have it in place, only 273 are using the CP-IS system, according to a list of implementers to date published by NHS Digital.
Meanwhile, just 79 out of 152 local councils with statutory responsibility for children’s services have introduced CP-IS in England so far. However, NHS England has said “nearly all” remaining local authorities had agreed a start date in the next 16 months.
The system was originally expected to be available to all clinicians working in relevant services by 2018. Nursing Times reported on the delay to the roll-out earlier this year.
At the time, NHS Digital, which is introducing the system alongside NHS England, said it was “working hard to ensure this process moves as swiftly and efficiently as possible”.
The aim now is for 80% of all unscheduled care settings, and 90% of all local authorities using the system by March 2019, with others following soon after.
“My plea for us, as safeguarding professionals, is that this is a priority. We want to move faster,” Ms Garratt told Nursing Times in an interview this month.
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“It’s them [nurses and safeguarding leads] using their influence to make sure their director of nursing can support the implementation and so that this is taken to the board,” she added.
“Every safeguarding professional needs to exercise their leadership and influence so the time and space can be made for this to be implemented,” she said.
Ms Garratt stressed that NHS organisations did not need to wait for local councils to bring in the system. “A lot of trusts are trying to manage winter pressures and waiting times, and this is another thing for them to do. But it is crucial that they do this – this sort of thing saves lives,” she said.
The system allows staff working in social and health care to see the child’s previous 25 visits to unscheduled care settings in England. So far, 91,232 children are covered by the system and last month 2,867 alerts were sent from healthcare organisations to local authorities.
NHS Digital and NHS England are running a free event in London on 29 November to help local authorities and healthcare organisations set up CP-IS.
Nurses urged to lobby trusts for new child protection system