Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is set to go live by the end of the month as a first-of-type site for a nationwide Child Protection Information Sharing project.

The system will flag children identified as vulnerable by social services to NHS staff if they attend A&E or other unscheduled care settings, with the information held centrally in a secure database and accessed via Spine2.

The project, which will cost £8.6m over the next five years, has been developed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Steven Ouko, Homerton’s system integrations manager, told EHI the trust is ready to go live, with an exact launch date dependent on delays at the HSCIC’s end.

“We’ve tested the connection and should be able to go live within the next few weeks.”

Ouko said the trust’s safeguarding lead is on the project board and has helped to define the solutions for the project and work with local authorities and other trusts to design a system that works for them.

“We wanted to have a seamless electronic record so clinicians don’t have extra processes to go through and all the information is available to them easily and quickly.”

Niall Canavan, the trust’s director of IT and systems, said a “very challenging” aspect of the project has been integrating the alerts into the record so they do not need to be viewed through a different system.

“What’s currently available is a portal, so you can have a separate process where you can go out of the record, go onto the portal, log in and get an alert, but we wanted to integrate it into the record.

“The information is on the Spine, so as soon as we get a query, it will automatically pull the alert into the system and displays it to the clinician.”

Ouko said a patient demographic banner with details of any child protection plan will be displayed on the record for the duration of the plan, while expired plans will remain “flagged up” as alerts in the record for clinicians to check.

Canavan said moving the alerts into a centralised database will address the problem of healthcare providers only receiving alerts about children who live within their borough.

“With local authorities at the moment, as you can imagine, if they’re a Hackney child you’ll get a Hackney alert, but if they go two boroughs away to Camden then they won’t get an alert there.”

Ouzo said the trust has been running mandatory training sessions for the system, with all staff receiving level one training so they have a basic understanding of how it will operate.

All clinicians will receive more detailed level two training, while those who come into contact with children as part of their role will receive level three training with information for more complex situations.

The first wave of the project was originally scheduled to go live in April.

The project will connect emergency departments, out of hours GP services, walk-in centres, paediatric wards, maternity wards, minor injury units and ambulance services with IT systems used in local authorities’ child protection systems.

This means that when a child who has a child protection plan in place, or a ‘child looked after’ status, goes into A&E, an indicator flag will automatically appear, informing staff that this is a child at risk.

NHS staff will also be able to see if a child has recently visited another A&E department in the country.

Tom Burnett, HSCIC’s programme manager for the project, also spoke at the conference but the session was closed to media.

An HSCIC spokesperson told EHI: "The project is currently in the initial deployment and verification stage.

“There will be further updates in due course."