Healthcare Commission: Trusts must improve on safeguarding

The Healthcare Commission has raised the alarm over the number of nurses and other hospital staff who are not being taught how to recognise the signs of child abuse.

In a report released today, the watchdog warned that many NHS staff working with children were not being given regular training in child protection.

The report echoed concerns in yesterday’s review of child protection by Lord Laming which found that not all accident and emergency staff were following guidance to ensure staff could spot the signs of abuse and were familiar with local child protection procedures.

The Healthcare Commission report follows the progress made by 154 NHS acute trusts since a series of recommendations on hospital children’s services were made in 2006.

One in five failing to meet child protection guidelines

It found that one in five trusts was failing to meet guidelines on providing child protection training to nurses every three years.

Thirty-three per cent of trusts were also judged to be “consistently low performing” over similar guidelines on training for consultant surgeons and 21% over training for anaesthetists.

Chief executive Anna Walker said that many trusts had shown an improvement over the last three years but that there was more to be done.

‘Particularly concerned’

She added: “We are particularly concerned about training in child protection. It is absolutely vital that NHS staff working with children know how to recognise signs of child abuse and know what to do if they see it.”

Walker said that experts on the review had recommended that child protection training be upped from every three years to every year. She continued: “We agree with this and will be discussing the guidance with the relevant Royal Colleges.”

Tory criticisms

Last month, the Conservative Party said hospital staff were confused about child protection procedures with two-thirds of trusts failing to routinely check whether injured children admitted to accident and emergency were on the at-risk register.

One of the 58 recommendations in Laming’s report was for the government to strengthen existing guidance – in Working Together to Safeguard Children – to improve training for A&E staff in child protection so they can spot and act on signs of risk.

The government has accepted all of the recommendations.

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