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RCN: Reduced safeguarding services risks child abuse

Designated nurses for safeguarding children (DNSCs) are not getting the time or resources they need to do their job, putting vulnerable children at risk, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned.

Only two fifths of DNSCs are able to focus on protecting children and young people, the RCN survey of Designated Nurses for Safeguarding Children, published today, has found.

More than 30% of those surveyed said safeguarding formed less than half their role, and 8% claimed it made up just a tenth.

This is because the designated nurses are taking on wider responsibilities that are outside of their role, for example more than one in four (27%) had managerial responsibilities while almost one in three (30%) had to spend time on commissioning tasks unrelated to their safeguarding duties.

Moreover, nearly a third of those surveyed said they had no safeguarding team to provide support or assistance, while one in ten said they received no supervision.

In response, Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people's nursing at the RCN, said: “This role is far too important to be watered down. These highly skilled and expert nurses are responsible for ensuring health care services have all they need to protect vulnerable children, so lessening their role will have a widespread detrimental impact. 

“Each and every Designated Nurse needs the time and resources to fulfil their role to the best of their ability. By failing to achieve this, more and more children are left vulnerable to abuse and neglect - and that is inexcusable,” she added.