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'Troubling' lack of NHS child protection training

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Nearly two-thirds of NHS trusts do not have a dedicated budget for training NHS staff in safeguarding children, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission.

Prompted by the case of Baby P, the commission surveyed 392 trusts on their child protection arrangements. The findings, published in a report last week, show that just 37% of trusts had a dedicated budget for training staff in safeguarding children, with many trusts having no training budget at all.

The report said: ‘This figure is troublingly low. Employers have a responsibility to identify adequate resources and support for training. Without an identifiable, dedicated budget, it is difficult to see how the delivery of this training can be guaranteed.’

The report, Safeguarding Children – A review of arrangements in the NHS for safeguarding children, also found that the proportion of NHS staff with up-to-date training in this area was ‘worryingly low’ at just 54%.

Additionally it found that few GP practices had a designated child protection lead or deputy – roles that can be filled by either a nurse or doctor – despite guidelines stating they should have both.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘Today’s report appears to cast a veil of shame over some health trusts’ attitude to child safety. Nurses have been saying for years that tragic cases like the death of Baby Peter happen when child protection is not top priority for those who manage health and social services. 

‘Health professionals ask for regular child protection training but their employers do not set aside the necessary time and money for it to happen. It is shocking that just half of eligible staff have the training they need to help protect children, and it sends the clear message that some boards are neglecting their responsibilities,’ he added.

Last year Nursing Times’ campaign ‘Time out for Training’ highlighted the need to improve access to ongoing training for nurses in all areas, with at least £165m of funding earmarked for NHS training diverted to other purposes in 2007–2008.

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