The national child protection data sharing scheme has revised its delivery plans after facing funding and technical issues.

NHS Digital’s board papers show that the Child Protection – Information Sharing (CP-IS) has pushed back its original target dates by a year.

The CP-IS is a project that links information about vulnerable children between social care and unscheduled NHS care settings via the NHS Spine, specifically alerting clinicians if a child is subject to a child protection plan.

The 3 May board papers say that the originally plan was to have 80% of local authorities live with CP-IS and 80% of local integration of the CP-IS system within the NHS by 31 March 2018

However, the revised timetable says by March 2019, 90% of local authorities will be live with the CP-IS, and only 65% of local authorities live in March 2018.

The latest set-back comes after time lines had previously been re-set in February last year, when a March 2018 deadline for the roll-out was named, after most local authorities missed the original December 2015 target.

A spokeswoman for NHS Digital said that: “Revising the timetable for delivery was necessary to recognise the work that each of these organisations has to do in order to implement CP-IS and to maximise uptake of the system.”

“We continue to work with and support local authorities, NHS trusts and IT systems suppliers across England to ensure the implementation process moves as swiftly and efficiently as possible.”

The board papers say challenges to the roll-out include:

  • Insufficient funding
  • Early technical challenges, for example the requirement to have an N3 connection
  • It’s the first time NHS Digital engaged with social care suppliers and local authorities in many cases
  • Underestimation of time taken for software suppliers to develop solution and gain accreditation

NHS Digital’s May board papers say current challenges with deployment include availability of software accredited with CP-IS and co-ordination of local authorities and NHS sites to go live in similar time frames.

The board papers say that by “summer 2016, it was clear that the project was failing to achieve these targets and would struggle to meet them ongoing”.

 

Eve Roodhouse NHS Digital

Eve Roodhouse from NHS Digital presenting at the King’s Fund

At the King’s Fund’s Digital Health and Care Congress 2017 on 11 July, Eve Roodhouse, NHS Digital’s programme director for CP-IS, described the project as “fundamentally important”.

“In my view, it’s inexcusable that we haven’t yet got this into every care setting”, she said.

“[It’s] paved the way really for other interactional work we do with local authorities as we go forward”.

She said that currently 75,000 children are protected by CP-IS, 40% of local authorities are live (60 in total) and 20% of healthcare organisations are live (60 in total), with 1,500 alerts a month.

CP-IS works as an information feedback loop. The social care details are extracted to NHS Spine via the NHS number, and if a child presents at unscheduled setting an alert is set off. The healthcare team is then given social care details and the child’s last 25 presentations at unscheduled care, and then the social team is notified that the child was seen by healthcare team.

NHS England is funding the project, and the total expenditure of 31 March 2017 is £5.8 million. The funding has been extended to 31 March 2018, at an expected cost of £2.1 million.

The CP-IS project was launched by the Department of Health in December 2012, in response to high profile cases where lack of information sharing contributed to child tragedies.

Roodhouse said that “poor communication in information sharing between agencies is identified as a factor in the majority of serious case reviews around the death or an injury of a child”.

The NHS and local authorities have been trying to set up an information sharing system for years, following the horrific abuse and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie at the hands of her guardians in 2000. Her death sparked an inquiry, that highlighted failings in information sharing between agency and recommended widespread changes.

However, the first attempt to achieve this, ContactPoint, was dogged by concerns about its scope, security and discrimination of already disadvantaged children. It was scrapped in 2010 by the new coalition government and CP-IS was eventually proposed as a scaled back solution to sharing information between health and social care.

Benefits to the project, listed in the board papers, include early intervention, improved safety and care and increased workforce efficiency and effectiveness.