The children’s commissioner for England has urged all NHS organisations in the country to adopt the Child Protection Information Sharing project (CP-IS), as it was revealed that just over half of NHS sites have implemented it.
Anne Longfield said she wanted to see the information-sharing system implemented “as soon as possible” with trusts and local authorities after viewing a demonstration of CP-IS at Royal Bolton Hospital.
CP-IS links the databases of councils with NHS organisations and alerts nurses and social workers when a vulnerable child makes an unscheduled admittance to A&E or a walk-in centre.
The purpose of the system is to identify cases in which an abused child is taken to different care settings by their abuser in an attempt to avoid authorities noticing a pattern.
As of end of March 2018, CP-IS covers 122,000 children with 104 local authorities – representing 68% of all councils in England. However, at present just 158 (59%) of NHS organisations in England have implemented the system, potentially leaving thousands of vulnerable children at risk.
Longfield said: “This is an innovative and important system for helping to protect vulnerable children by identifying patterns of abuse or neglect and encouraging early intervention.
“We know from some of the most tragic cases that when health and children’s professionals aren’t sharing information or don’t know about patterns of potential abuse that things can go very wrong.
An NHS Digital spokesperson told Digital Health News that the organisation was targeting 90% of local authorities and 80% of NHS sites by end of March 2019, a target they said it was on course to exceed.
It is the responsibility of individual trusts to implement the system, a “simple process” that requires organisations to “run a small project that lasts a few weeks”, the spokesperson said.
“We have regional implementation managers who work closely with healthcare organisations and local authorities to guide and support them through the implementation process,” they added.
The go-live of CP-IS means that some 12,210 children across Greater Manchester are now protected by CP-IS.
According to NHS Digital, in March the system sent over 3,600 notifications from NHS sites to social workers – a 115 % increase on six months previously.
Eve Roodhouse, executive director at NHS Digital, said: “Despite the fantastic progress, we still have a long way to go in implementing this nationally and we need all sites who haven’t yet started the process to follow Bolton and Greater Manchester’s lead and implement Child Protection Information Sharing as quickly as possible.
“It is a vital tool to help safeguard our most vulnerable children.”