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Helping health professionals safeguard children

NSPCC

The NSPCC's EduCare distance learning programme is the first of its kind to address the need for all of those who work in healthcare to play a part in protecting children.

Hundreds of thousands of healthcare staff work directly with children and families in the health sector in the UK. "It's not just doctors, health visitors, midwives and nurses, those people who we tend to think of as dealing directly with this difficult issue," said Enid Hendry, NSPCC Head of Child Protection Training and Consultancy.

"It's everyone in healthcare, including receptionists, transport and ambulance drivers, paramedics, dentists, pharmacists, radiologists, occupational therapists and opticians, who need an awareness of child protection."

"Everyone has a role to play in recognising and reporting suspected child abuse and in supporting families under stress, and having an understanding of child protection is essential."

"Better awareness will also contribute to better communication on child abuse concerns between staff, which can be crucial in piecing together the full picture of what may be happening to a child."

Receptionists, for example, can observe the behaviour of a family in a waiting room, and these observations can help contribute to an overall picture of a child's welfare, along with information from a formal consultation.

Similarly, when ambulance drivers attend an emergency situation they can gain valuable insight into how the situation may have arisen and whether there are child protection concerns.

Crucially, the local health centre or GP clinic may be one of the few places where families under stress seek help and one of the few chances to pick up signs of child abuse.

This also applies to pharmacies and drop-in medical centres as these may be the only contact a family under stress has with community services. In some cases these can be used to avoid a visit to the local GP in an attempt to "hide" abuse.

Earlier this year, Lord Laming recommended that all practice staff and all those working in primary healthcare who have contact with children should have child protection education.

Responding to Lord Laming, the government launched a  Children's Green Paper, which announced many recommendations for training and workplace reform, looking at improving the skills and effectiveness of those working with children, including a common core of training for those who work solely with children and families as well as those who have wider roles (see Resources). It is hoped that the new NSPCC programme will provide better overall awareness in the health sector and stimulate interest to pursue more indepth training.

The NSPCC's EduCare programme can refresh and update the knowledge of those who have been trained in child protection awareness some time ago, or introduce staff to the issues for the first time. It is ideal for staff induction.

Currently, there is a worrying lack of consistency in child protection training for healthcare professionals. Many doctors have little or no up-to-date child protection training, and there is no nationally agreed set of skills and knowledge that health professionals are expected to have in this area.

Mary Marsh, NSPCC Director and Chief Executive, issued a challenge to health service managers to ensure that all their staff have an awareness in child protection.
 
"We would like to see all health professionals and health service workers who are in contact with families have a grounding in child protection awareness."

"This programme is a good way to provide the basic training staff need, and give them confidence to act on their concerns. It could make all the difference to a child."

The NSPCC Child Protection Awareness in Health Programme covers issues such as:

  • Good practice principles.
  • How to recognise signs of abuse.
  • What to do if you are concerned about a child or a colleague's behaviour in relation to a child.

The programme is easily accessible and flexible. It can be completed at work or at home and at the participant's own pace, so it can fit in with demanding work schedules.

Those who register for the programme receive four short learning modules and questionnaires that can be completed at the participant's convenience. Individual feedback is given and an NSPCC certificate issued once participants have reached the required pass criteria. The programme can be fully audited, and management reports are available on request to monitor staff progress.

Information about the new programme is being distributed widely, including to NHS trusts, accident and emergency, radiology and paediatric departments, schools of nursing, mental health practices and some of the bigger GP surgeries, to make sure that as many people as possible who work in healthcare are made aware of the programme.

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NSPCC

42 Curtain Road
London
EC2A 3NH
T:020 7825 2500
F:020 7825 2715
24-hour NSPCC Helpline:
0808 800 5000

Resources
The NSPCC EduCare Child Protection Awareness In Health Programme
Priced at £22.50 (plus £3.94 VAT) per participant and available from
EduCare
PO Box 3261
Leamington Spa
CV32 5RS
or contact the EduCare Hotline T:01926 436219
F:01926 436216
E:info@debrus.co.uk
The Department of Health's Children's Taskforce
W:www.doh.gov.uk/childrenstaskforce
What to do if you're worried a child is being abused
All nurses, midwives and health visitors who are registered with the NMC should have received the above document containing detailed guidance about what to do if they suspect child abuse. If you have not received your copy of the ­booklet, you can download it from W:www.doh.gov.uk/safeguardingchildren/ index.htm