New standards for hospitals spell out child protection responsibilities

All hospitals must ensure they have child protection protocols and
24-hour access to child protection advice and support under new
national standards for children in hospital published last

The hospital standard is the first part of National Service
Framework for Children. The remaining parts are due out in the

The hospital standard’s section on the quality and safety of care
provided states that children’s records should be attributable to
and signed by a health care professional and countersigned by the
responsible consultant – a requirement for safeguarding children
emphasised by the Victoria Climbi’ Inquiry.

It adds that it may be necessary to investigate children’s prior
attendance at other hospitals, particularly when there are
protection concerns.

The safety section goes on to state that staff assessing children
should know who to contact in social services at any time if they
have concerns about a child’s safety, and that appropriate advice
on child protection should be available 24 hours a day, seven days
a week.

It adds that agreed procedures should be in place for reporting
concerns and that no child should be dismissed without a care plan.

Under the standard, all hospitals should also have a protocol in
place drawn up and agreed by the trust board, with the involvement
of other local agencies secured through the local area child
protection committee.

In terms of joint-working arrangements, it describes the
“preferred” scenario to be one where a core of social services
staff are permanently dedicated to working with hospital services
and have a base in the building.

Draft standards on child protection and child and adolescent mental
health, published alongside the final hospital standard, suggest
that every area has a preventive strategy to raise awareness among
staff and the community on how to safeguard children and that
24-hour cover is in place for urgent mental health needs.

– The Standard for Hospital Services and NSF Emerging

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