Work on the system will begin in early 2013 and it will start to be introduced to NHS hospitals in 2015.
Doctors and nurses using the system, known as ‘Child Protection - Information System’, in emergency departments or urgent care centres will be able to see if the children they treat:
- are subject to a child protection plan or being looked after by the local authority
- have frequently attended emergency departments or urgent care centres over a period of time.
Medical staff will be able to use this information as part of their overall clinical assessment, along with information about where and when children have previously been receiving urgent treatment. This will help them build up a better picture of what is happening in the child’s life so they can alert social services if they think something might be wrong.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:
“Up until now, it has been hard for frontline healthcare professionals to know if a child is already listed as being at risk or if children have been repeatedly seen in different emergency departments or urgent care centres with suspicious injuries or complaints, which may indicate abuse.
“Providing instant access to that information means vulnerable and abused children will be identified much more quickly - which will save lives.”
Dr Amanda Thomas, Officer for Child Protection at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
“The Report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum highlighted that professionals working in different care settings need to communicate better with one another on child protection issues, and highlighted the proposed Child Protection - Information System solution as an encouraging move towards ensuring that clinical professionals have immediate access to important child protection information.
“This solution is a positive step and an important part of the overall solution. The college has been involved from an early stage and will continue to work with the Department of Health to ensure it is introduced effectively, integrates well with the working practices of NHS staff and makes a genuine contribution to improving child protection practice.”