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Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Wales



 

Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) have today published reports on safeguarding and protecting children in Wales. This follows the Ministerial Statement ‘Safeguarding Vulnerable Children in Wales’ made in November 2008 in a response to the death of baby Peter Connelly in Haringey.

The three reports published today are:
  • Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Wales: the review of Local Authorities and the Local Children safeguarding Boards.
  • Improving Practice to Protect Children in Wales: An examination of the role of the Serious Case reviews.
  • Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Wales: A review of the review of the arrangements in place across the Welsh National Health Service.
They bring together the findings from each strand of work undertaken by the two inspectorates and provide an overview of the arrangements that are in place to help safeguard and protect children in Wales.
 
Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) found that in relation to local authority social services, much attention has been given to strengthening the response to initial concerns about child harm and abuse since the first national review carried out by Social Services Inspectorate of Wales in 2004.
 
However, the review of Local Authorities and Local Safeguarding Boards (LSCBs) highlighted variations and inconsistencies in practice and an imbalance in how organisations and professionals discharge their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, with too much reliance and expectation being placed on local authority social services. The review highlighted the challenges in maintaining constant vigilance in keeping all parts of the system working together well for all of the time.
 
LSCBs were found to be at different stages of development across Wales and many are currently not effectively discharging their functions as set out in guidance and some agencies, by their non participation, are failing in their duty to co-operate. There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise in child protection amongst the professionals and organisations across Wales, yet this is dispersed in such a way that it is not able to maximise the impacts and benefits it could deliver if it was better aligned and organised.
 
CSSIW has stated in their report that there is a need to achieve a more consistent alignment of policy and practice across all organisations at national, regional and local levels to enable more effective working together to safeguard and protect children.
 
There has been a sharp rise in the number of serious case reviews in the last two years. There were 17 cases subject to review in April 2007 and 34 in April 2008 an increase of 100%. There is a high level of agreement across Wales about the fact that the current serious case review arrangements are not working effectively.
 
CSSIW’s report highlights the need for a more coherent and comprehensive LSCB framework for reviewing, learning and improving safeguarding practice which does not rely solely on serious case reviews as the driver for achieving change in policy and practice. It requires a continuum of learning, based on clear principles of openness, professional challenge and support, accountability, a shared commitment to improving practice and timely action to bring about necessary change.
 
Jonathan Corbett, Acting Chief Inspector, CSSIW today said:

"These reports provide clear evidence of the improvements that have been made by local authorities and other organisations to safeguard and protect children in Wales. They also identify where attention and effort now needs to be focussed in further strengthening and improving joint working to safeguard and protect children. The challenge for all organisations and professionals working with children and their families is to deliver this."

HIW’s review undertaken in tandem with those of CSSIW specifically set out to answer 2 key questions:
  • Are all those working in healthcare organisations aware of their responsibilities in relation to child protection and safeguarding and do they know how to properly deal with suspected child protection/safeguarding issues?
  • Are children and young people safe when accessing health services or visiting healthcare premises?
The HIW report identifies some progress and improvement in relation to child protection and safeguarding arrangements across healthcare organisations since the last full review undertaken, by HIW, in 2007. It highlights that staff were found to be generally alert to child protection issues and aware of the appropriate reporting and escalation procedures. However, the report also states that some staff working in adult services still appear to not accept that they also have a role in child protection.
 
In the report concern is also raised that not all staff working in the NHS have been Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checked and that there are inconsistencies in the way CRB checks are undertaken across NHS Wales. Variations in the consistency with which health professionals share information inside their own organisations, as well as with other agencies and sectors have also been identified. In some areas, staff expressed concern about breaking patient confidentiality and the effect that this may have on their future relationship with the individual and their therapeutic needs.
 
The report contains twenty six recommendations aimed at improving child protection and safeguarding arrangements across healthcare organisations in Wales.
 
Peter Higson, Chief Executive of HIW, today said:

"The sharing of information and the CRB checking of staff continue to be the biggest issues for the NHS and it is clear that there is still a lot of work to be undertaken in these areas. Organisations need to be clear about when and how information is shared. They need to understand that the safety and welfare of children and young people is of the utmost importance; patient confidentiality should not be used as a barrier to protecting and safeguarding them.

We will require all those organisations and agencies, for which we have made recommendations for improvement in our report, to prepare an action plan setting out how they intend to take the recommendations forward. These action plans will be monitored as part of the performance management arrangements for those organisations".

Source: Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW)