Practice staff step up to keep children safe

Practice staff step up to keep children safe

SSP Health is taking its safeguarding commitment to the next level after ensuring its key frontline staff are experts in keeping children safe.

Managers and other non-clinical staff from SSP Health’s practices across the region came together to learn how to spot the signs of abuse and when to step in to protect young people.

The 60 staff, including Cancer Champions and Carer Champions, which each SSP Health practice is required to designate, were given training by the company’s Clinical Director for Safeguarding, Dr Priyanka Sharma.

Dr Sharma, a GP at SSP Health’s The Height General Practice – a CQC-rated ‘Outstanding’ practice in Salford – gave a comprehensive presentation on the latest safeguarding procedures as part of the group’s Safeguarding Children Level 3 training, which is only normally required for GPs.

Dr Sharma highlighted how important it was to work with other agencies – including the police, social services and schools – and impressed on staff that all concerns on safeguarding issues should be reported, with even the “simplest of worries” needing to be addressed and referred.

During a question and answer session, case studies were discussed and good practice exchanged on topics including female genital mutilation, looked after children, domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and neglect.

One of the Wigan practice managers related a recent case to the room of a 13-year-old boy arriving at her surgery who was suicidal. The child was not registered at the practice, but despite this, the doctor and manager contacted all relevant agencies and in the best interests of the child, took him to Accident and Emergency where his injuries for self-harm were treated and referral into the care system was organised.

GP Shikha Pitalia, Director of SSP Health, said it was important that all key non-clinical practice staff – not just doctors – understood their responsibilities when it came to safeguarding children.

She said: “We felt it was necessary to take all these key colleagues out of their busy working environments to fully understand how to spot the signs that could present safeguarding issues.

“SSP Health pioneered Cancer Champions and Carer Champions in 2005 and it is vital that they, along with practice managers, know how to make a difference in keeping children within our catchment areas safe.

“The signs there may be problems within families is sometimes apparent in waiting rooms and all our professionals can make a difference in stepping in to ensure further inquiries are carried out. They can make a real impact on people’s lives.

“Our staff are part of their communities and we have had a number of instances where they have highlighted potential issues, either to GPs or the relevant authorities, and with this training we wanted to ensure this can be replicated throughout all of our practices.

“Our 36 sites across the North West have very different demographics but we all know there is no discrimination on where abuse happens and safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.”

Dr Pitalia said the next step in the process was to train all practice nurses to Level 3, which would be completed in summer 2019.

Cancer Champions and Carer Champions, which each SSP Health practice is required to designate, were given training by the company’s Clinical Director for Safeguarding, Dr Priyanka Sharma.