GP practices play an important role in safeguarding for children and young people from abuse and neglect.
All NHS staff must have the competences to recognise child maltreatment and to take effective action where needed. They must also clearly understand their responsibilities, and should be supported by their employing organisation to fulfil their duties.
Independent contractors, such as GPs, have a particular responsibility to ensure that all staff across their organisations have the knowledge and skills to be able to meet this requirement and this requires committed safeguarding leadership.
At a CQC inspection
On a CQC inspection, our inspectors will want GPs and other practice staff to demonstrate their competence in safeguarding children and young people at risk by:
- Demonstrating their understanding of how to identify a child in need of safeguarding.
- Showing that they undertstand of their responsibilities in the event of a child or young person’s safeguarding concern, in line with safeguarding policies and procedures. This will be set out in a safeguarding policy.
- Being aware of the internal arrangements for recording a child, or young person, safeguarding concern.
- Knowing the external process for reporting the concern and understanding that this is in line with local multi-agency policy and procedures.
Each practice should have a designated lead for safeguarding children and young people. These people have a key role in promoting good professional, providing advice and expertise for fellow professionals, and ensuring safeguarding training is undertaken.
Child safeguarding in a 'good' practice
In a ‘good’ practice there will be evidence that safeguarding vulnerable children and young people is given sufficient priority.
Staff will take a proactive approach to safeguarding and focus on early identification. Steps will also be taken to protect people where there are risks, with appropriate responses to any signs or allegations of abuse and effective work with other organisations to implement protection plans.
There will also be active and appropriate engagement in local safeguarding procedures and effective work with other relevant organisations.
This RCGP safeguarding children toolkit takes account of new policies, legislation and emerging evidence as well as the constraints of the 10-minute consultation and the pressures of 21st century general practice.
It is not a textbook of child safeguarding but a practical workbook for busy GPs and their teams. It is designed to help practice staff recognise when a child may be at risk of abuse, what to do if there are concerns and to ensure that the practice team works with other disciplines and agencies to achieve the best possible outcomes for children by safeguarding and promoting their welfare.
- Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP adviser at the CQC