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Nigel's surgery 33: Safeguarding children

  • Organisations we regulate

GP practices play an important role in safeguarding children and young people from abuse and neglect.

Here we explain how safeguarding children and young people should be integrated into existing practice systems and processes for delivering general practice. This includes what we expect to see on our inspections. It relates to key line of enquiry S1: how do systems, processes and practices keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse?

Statutory guidance

Working Together to Safeguard Children’ is statutory guidance which helps professionals understand what they need to do, and what they can expect of one another, to safeguard children. It focuses on core legal requirements and makes it clear what individuals and organisations should do to keep children safe. Safeguarding children is defined as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Competence and training

All healthcare staff must be competent to recognise abuse, clearly understand their responsibilities and take effective action appropriate to their role. GPs and managers have a responsibility to ensure that all practice staff have the knowledge and skills to be able to meet this requirement..

When we inspect we need to see that GPs and all other practice staff can demonstrate their competence in safeguarding children and young people at risk.

Each practice should have a designated lead for safeguarding children and young people. This key role in the practice:

  • promotes good practice
  • provides advice and support for fellow staff
  • makes sure that fellow staff are suitably trained in safeguarding

We need to see evidence that:

  • the practice gives sufficient priority to safeguarding children.
  • staff take a proactive approach to safeguarding and focus on prevention and early identification
  • staff take steps to protect children and young people where there are known risks, respond appropriately to any signs or allegations of abuse, and work effectively with other organisations to implement protection plans
  • there is active and appropriate engagement in local safeguarding procedures and effective work with other relevant organisations

Other guidance

The Royal Colleges give clear guidance about the appropriate competencies and levels of training in safeguarding children or child protection for different members of staff. The Intercollegiate Guideline (ICG) “Safeguarding Children and Young People: roles and competences for health care staff” (2014), sets out the competencies all health staff must have and the minimum training required. This framework identifies five levels of competence, and gives examples of groups that fall within each of these.

Our Safeguarding children training position statement sets out our position in relation to staff competency levels for safeguarding children.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Safeguarding children toolkit for general practice includes policies, legislation and supporting evidence and can be used as a practical workbook for GPs and their teams.

Notifying CQC of safeguarding incidents

Not all referrals the practice makes to the local authority need to be notified to CQC. Practices are only required to notify CQC of safeguarding incidents where the allegation of abuse is linked to their provision of care.

We have clarified expectations on statutory notifications of abuse in a note within our Safeguarding Handbook (see Appendix 10).

Last updated:
27 April 2018


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