SCIE media release

Child protection: improving partnership working between hospitals and local authorities

02 October 2013

More children are being referred to social care services. At a national level, the number now equates to around 4,000 per local authority. Reviews of serious cases can highlight failures in inter-agency working between hospitals and local authority child protection teams.

From today, there is new support on offer for staff who work to protect children. Three Social Care TV films, a report and an At a glance summary will be invaluable to support the partnership between hospitals and councils.

The new resources come from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and are based on a research report and local evidence from case studies in Cardiff and Scunthorpe. The materials reinforce the idea of "reflective practice", where people working in different jobs and different organisations communicate effectively and respectfully with each other, to help safeguard children from abuse.

SCIE's Deputy Chief Executive, Amanda Edwards, says:

Safeguarding children is a difficult task for all those involved - in hospital and social care services. These resources emphasise the need for clear procedures, jointly owned and developed, with the time set aside for staff to regularly review, challenge and understand each others' perspective.

Chief Executive of The College of Social Work, Annie Hudson says:

It cannot be over-emphasised how important it is that all professionals, with joint responsibilities for child protection, have a clear understanding of how to assess potential risks; and also when and how to share information. Serious case reviews have repeatedly flagged up the need to make sure that professionals communicate effectively and in a timely way, so that there is clear and joint understanding of what is happening to children.

Case studies - Cardiff and Scunthorpe

The Social Care TV films show the value of a council having a close working relationship with a local hospital trust. In Cardiff, the nurse in charge of safeguarding, Beverly Evans, discusses how the referral system works. Nurses may have been on the night shift, and might not be in for a few days, so it's vital that referrals are done properly and lines of communication with the council are strong.

In Scunthorpe, any referral can be audited so that communication always occurs at different levels between the hospital, council and police. This "live quality assurance process" is just one way of making sure that the service is dynamic and constantly looking to protect children from harm.

Among the key learning points, the resources include the following factors for councils and hospitals to consider:

Notes to editors

Research was carried by SCIE as part of the Department of Health-funded work programme conducted by the Policy Research Unit in the Health of Children, Young People and Families.

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Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: media@scie.org.uk