A national information sharing system launched two years ago to help nurses and other clinicians identify children at risk of abuse is still yet to be in operation among all local authorities and NHS trusts.
Only around a quarter of local authorities and NHS trusts in England are using the Child Protection-Information Sharing (CPIS) system, which was expected to be available to all clinicians working in accident and emergency and out-of-hours services by 2018.
“We continue to work hard to ensure this process moves as swiftly and efficiently as possible”
NHS Digital spokeswoman
The CPIS system, set up at the end of 2014, was designed to automatically alert health professionals if a child they treated or saw in a consultation was on a child protection plan with a local council or was in care, or if they treated a pregnant woman who had a pre-birth protection plan in place.
Under the system, they are also given the contact details of the social workers responsible for them.
At the same time, the system ensures social workers are alerted if a child attends an unscheduled care setting, such as A&E, out-of-hours GPs and walk-in centres.
It was described as a “landmark” system when launched and was designed to help prevent future cases of child abuse, similar to that of the high profile Baby P case, in which a toddler died despite being seen by child protection services and health professionals.
NHS England, which is running the system with NHS Digital, wanted all clinicians working in unscheduled care settings to be able to use the system by 2018.
Last year, it was expected that 70 local councils would be using the system by April 2016 and that 80% of NHS providers would have adopted it by the end of 2018.
“A number of local authorities and NHS trusts are mid-way through the process of implementing CP-IS”
NHS Digital spokeswoman
But NHS England board papers from last month reveal the system is in operation at just 44 local authorities – out of a possible 152 councils that are expected to use it – and only 35 NHS trusts.
The papers, prepared by deputy chief nursing officer for England Hilary Garratt, and NHS England’s head of safeguarding Susan Warburton, noted that 48% of all plans could now be viewed through the system.
They stated that the system “continues to make progress following a review and re-basing of the programme”.
Guidance on implementing the CPIS system states that in 2015 the Department for Education estimated more than 69,500 children were in care in England, over 49,300 children needed protection from abuse and in excess of 1,200 unborn children required protection.
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When asked by Nursing Times whether changes had been made to the system to ensure all clinicians would be able to use it by 2018, NHS Digital said it was working hard to ensure “this process moves as swiftly and efficiently as possible”.
It noted that it was a “highly complex programme” due to the multiple IT systems that needed to be connected.
“A number of local authorities and NHS trusts are mid-way through the process of implementing CP-IS,” said an NHS Digital spokeswoman.
“We continue to work hard to ensure this process moves as swiftly and efficiently as possible in meeting the main aim of all this work, which is to provide an additional layer of protection to vulnerable children,” she added.