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A&E database will alert staff to signs of abused children
Joined up system designed to avoid repeat of Baby P and Victoria Climbie scandals
27th December 2012 - Children who visit hospital casualty departments will have their injuries logged on a database so that staff can monitor signs of abuse or neglect, the government has announced.
It will mean that doctors and nurses in A&E departments and urgent care centres will be able to see if a child they are treating has been identified as 'at risk' or has frequently been taken to casualty units.
Under the new system, when a child arrives and is logged in, a flag will appear on the child’s record if they are subject to a child protection plan or are being looked after by the local authority.
Harder to conceal abuse
Logging injuries across the NHS would make it harder for parents or carers to conceal abuse by visiting different hospitals.
Ministers have given the green light for work to begin on the database next year and for the system to begin being rolled out in 2015. It will be known as the 'Child Protection - Information System' (CP-IS).
It is part of a more joined-up approach to child care designed to prevent a repeat of high-profile cases of failure such as the deaths of Baby P and Victoria Climbie.
Identifying vulnerable children
"Doctors and nurses are often the first people to see children who are victims of abuse," says health minister Dr Dan Poulter. He continues in a statement: "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.
"Baby P and Victoria Climbie were both shocking and tragic cases - we want to do everything we can to stop them happening again. This is a huge leap forward and will give the authorities a fighting chance of identifying abused children much sooner."
The Department of Health is stressing that just because a child has visited A&E departments in the past this does not necessarily mean that he or she has been abused or neglected. However, it says that the patient profile will allow doctors and nurses to build up a better picture of what is happening in a child's life.
Only NHS staff involved in the child's treatment will be able to see the information, and normal patient confidentiality rules will apply.
Dr Amanda Thomas, child protection officer at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says in an emailed statement: "This solution is a positive step and an important part of the overall solution.
The college has been involved with CP-IS 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."