National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland: Guidance for Health Professionals in Scotland

This guidance is intended to act as a practical reference point for all healthcare staff working within an adult and child service context.

It highlights the specific roles and responsibilities of specialist staff working in particular settings wherever children and young people will usually be seen.

It sets out the framework to aid practitioners in their role in dealing with child protection concerns.

Chapter 5 NHS Links with Other Agencies

This section:

  • Highlights importance of inter-agency working.
  • Outlines role of Chief Officers in promoting joint working.
  • Outlines role of Child Protection Committees.
  • Sets out the responsibilities of NHS 24 and Scottish Ambulance Service.

All healthcare staff, in accordance with their statutory and professional responsibilities, must work with local authorities, police and other partner agencies, to protect children and young people to reduce risk and protect from abuse, neglect, and to promote their wellbeing. All front-line staff must know how to access local child protection guidelines and child protection advisers.

Strategic Links between Boards and Local Authorities

The Framework for Standards outlines the standards which all services should strive to provide. These include that:

  • Agencies and professionals should work together to assess needs and risks and develop effective plans on an interdisciplinary and interagency basis.
  • Agencies work in partnership with members of the community to protect children and young people.
  • Agencies individually and collectively demonstrate leadership and accountability for their work and its effectiveness.

A Quality Improvement Framework, using quality indicators, helps services evaluate how well they protect children and meet their needs.11

Chief Constables, Chief Executives of Health Boards and Local Authorities, referred to as Chief Officers, are responsible for ensuring that their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. In order to achieve effective partnership working, there needs to be positive and constructive working relationships between individuals and agencies, exemplified and promoted by strong leadership and commitment of Chief Executives, Directors, and Lead Members in all agencies.

It is essential that health services have robust and effective joint working with other agencies to promote the wellbeing of children and young people and protect them from abuse and neglect. Within each Health Board area there are a number of strategic groups which plan and deliver systems and processes to improve joint working and communication across and between agencies, in particular Integrated Children Service Planning and the Child Protection Committee.

Chief Officers should demonstrate effective collaborative working to discharge their child protection responsibilities and consistently promote effective joint working within and across services.

Chief Officers will determine their own local membership and business arrangements. They will ensure that they are transparent and accountable to elected members and Scottish Ministers. Their partnership working will focus on providing better outcomes for vulnerable children and families.

They will set up arrangements for gathering and presenting performance management and monitoring information that is relevant to achieving these outcomes in their areas and taking appropriate action in response to unsatisfactory performance. They will ensure that there is an interface with adult protection, offender management/Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and other planning fora.

Child Protection Committee

Child Protection Committees are the primary strategic planning fora for developing and implementing multi-agency child protection work and are established in each local authority area.

Chief Officers are responsible for ensuring that their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. Chief Officers must ensure that their Child Protection Committees are properly constituted, resourced and clearly focussed. The guidance "Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees 2005" 12 provides further information.

Chief Officers across Scotland are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees.

Chief Officers are responsible for overseeing the commissioning of all child protection services and are accountable for this work and its effectiveness. They are individually responsible for promoting child protection across all areas of their individual services and agencies, thus ensuring a corporate approach.

The specification for a child protection service should include preventative strategies using the GIRFEC approach which supports prevention and early intervention to reduce the number of children within the child protection system (e.g. services to promote the wellbeing of children and provide support to families where health inequalities, parental substance misuse or domestic abuse is an issue). These services are not only involved in providing healthcare but also in the promotion of health, in reducing health inequalities and meeting the wider public health agendas. The implementation of GIRFEC will create a network of support around the child to promote wellbeing. Concerns regarding a child's wellbeing should be identified early often within universal services that will either result in a single agency plan co-ordinated by the child's Named Person or where the Named Person requires support from another agency a Lead Professional will be appointed to co-ordinate the child's plan.

NHS 24

NHS 24 is Scotland's National Telehealth and Telecare Service. NHS 24 provides access to clinical assessment, healthcare advice and information and aims to give service users the assistance and advice they require to meet their health needs including onward referral as appropriate. Most calls to NHS 24 are made out of hours, when GP surgeries are closed, but the service is available 24 hours a day. When NHS 24 staff identify a child protection issue they will share this information with partners from other agencies to ensure that services are alert to the protection needs of the unborn baby, child or young person. NHS 24 must ensure that all relevant clinical information is copied to other clinical staff involved in the care of the child or young person (e.g. the Named Person, Lead Professional or primary care team). This is particularly relevant for child protection where parents or carers may seek health advice and treatment from many different health providers to avoid detection of neglect or abuse.

Scottish Ambulance Service

The Scottish Ambulance Service is Scotland's national ambulance service covering the whole of Scotland; the service recognises its responsibility in the care and protection of children. Ambulance crews attend emergency and urgent calls across the whole of the country and will often be in the front line to identify children in "at risk" situations. Ambulance staff have child protection as a part of their training and ongoing education. There are defined reporting procedures in place for children identified as possibly being at risk.


Email: Fiona McKinlay

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