NHS Digital has given school nurses and health visitors access to a system that provides data on protected vulnerable children for the NHS and local authorities.
It said the move is intended to strengthen the protection of children at risk when for many it is heightened by the coronavirus crisis.
Named Child Protection Information Sharing (CP-IS), the system alerts NHS staff and the relevant social workers when children subject to a child protection plan or designated as ‘looked after’ turn up at an unscheduled setting such as an A&E department or walk-in centre. It also applies to pregnant women with an unborn child protection plan.
It is now being urgently amended to become available to school nurses and health visitors, in line with a plan for which it is was originally scheduled for some time before 2023.
A data provision notice was issued over the weekend to notify local authorities that NHS Digital will be collecting the data and sharing it through CP-IS, and a letter sent out to all local authority directors of children’s services explaining the new functionality.
The information will be sent to school nurses and health visitors through their clinical system from the NHS Spine.
NHS Digital said this will provide them with a reliable source of information on which children are vulnerable at a time when the capacity of local agencies is being reduced.
A pilot of the service is set to go live in London this week and it will then be rolled out nationally as quickly as possible.
Martin Dennys, programme director at NHS Digital, said: “We know that a deeply concerning potential unintended consequence of the current regulations in place to try and keep people at home to save lives is that vulnerable children already at risk of being abused are even more at risk.
“We are working around the clock to extend the crucial information shared through Child Protection Information Sharing to school nurses and health visitors as quickly as possible, to provide what could be a crucial extra layer of information and protection at a time when local arrangements for such data sharing may be difficult to administer.”
Image by John D, CC BY 2.0