Lancashire Teaching and Homerton University Hospital NHS foundation trusts have become the first to go live with a nationwide Child Protection Information Sharing project.
This will flag children identified as vulnerable by social services to NHS staff if they attend A&E or other unscheduled care settings.
The project, which will cost £8.6m over the next five years, has been developed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. It will hold information centrally in a secure database, from where it can be accessed via the NHS data Spine.
Homerton is using InterSystems’ HealthShare software to integrate the child protection alerts into its electronic patient record, while staff at Lancashire will access the information via an external portal developed by the HSCIC, with NHS smartcard authentication.
Steve Ouko, Homerton’s systems integration manager, told EHI the trust received its first live request using test data on 17 November, successfully querying the patients and displaying alerts.
“Everyone was pleased with how it went, we were really just waiting for everybody else to go live and switch on.”
Ouko said the “fully integrated” nature of the trust’s solution makes it easier for staff to view the alerts instead of having to use an external log-in.
“For us, it’s about pulling down the information into our system as opposed to having to introduce another system where have to log on, authenticate and check the data.”
The trust is currently receiving alerts from the borough of Tower Hamlets, with Hackney, Newham, Waltham Forest and Haringey the other councils within its boundary left to go-live.
“If anything, we’ll push for more local authorities to get on board sooner rather than later,” Ouko said.
John Asbury, a software engineer at the Lancashire trust, told EHI the time pressures of being part of the “first wave” of adopters meant it was unable to implement a fully integrated solution.
However, he said clinicians have been happy with using the portal to access alerts from Lancashire County Council. “There were some initial concerns, but they’ve been allayed because it’s quite straightforward.”
Asbury said the trust has gone live with the system in its maternity department, with the emergency department to follow shortly once staff have been trained and taught the new workflows.
He said the trust is planning some internal work to improve integration into workflows in the medium term, with plans to move towards a fully integrated solution in the future.
Vivien Barnes, the trust’s lead nurse for safeguarding children, told EHI the solution will provide it with “much more timely” access to child alerts compared to its current approach.
“There’s always a delay in receiving emails and updating lists, but this will make it much fresher.”
Lancashire County Council is sharing information with the Lancashire trust using social care IT solutions provider and System C subsidiary Liquidlogic to build a link between its case management system and the trust’s information systems.
David Grigsby, managing director of Liquidlogic, told EHI the company is "really pleased" to be part of the CP-IS project and had put in a lot of work ahead of the go-live.
"We're building on what we set out to do when we established the company, which is to join up health and social care."
Grigsby said he hopes that more of the 53 councils who use Liquidlogic will follow suit and start sharing information using the CP-IS platform.
The CP-IS project will connect social care, 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.
The system is expected to be rolled out nationwide by 2018, connecting 1,230 NHS settings and 152 local authorities across England.
The idea is that when a child who has a child protection plan in place, or when child with a ‘child looked after’ status, goes into A&E, an indicator flag will automatically appear, informing staff that this is a child at risk.
Only NHS staff involved with the care of the child will have access to the information, which is non-clinical. It will be accessed via a secure electronic system and robust rules about who has permission to view the information are in place.