Central Eastern CSU safeguards vulnerable children using information-sharing portal


Harris Healthcare portal enables GPs to view relevant information about children deemed at risk

Central Eastern Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) is working with Harris Healthcare to provide a first-of-a-kind portal that enables GPs to view relevant information about children deemed at risk by colleagues within the community trust.

The system will provide GPs with a view of crucial data that includes basic demographics, the names of a child’s family members and any recent A&E attendances, to enable them to make more joined-up decisions about a child’s health and wellbeing.

GPs currently rely on manual processes for gathering Safeguarding Information from other health professionals who may be involved in a child’s care.

Lloyd Baker, assistant director ICT informatics and chief information officer at Central Eastern CSU, who initiated the project said: “There is a wealth of information that is locked away in different IT systems that GPs and other health and social care professionals simply do not know exists or cannot access.

“The portal will provide a much quicker and efficient way of opening up access to that information, which is imperative in recognising whether a child is at risk and will allow healthcare professionals to take the necessary steps to protect them at the earliest stage possible.”

The data, which is also taken from the Community Information System used in Hertfordshire by health visitors and school nurses, will allow GPs read-only access to check their concerns by seeing if other care professionals have also logged a child as being vulnerable.

Baker said: “The recent Caldicott2 Report highlighted a ‘duty to share’ information when it is in a patient’s best interest. We believe that appropriate sharing of relevant information can improve quality and even save lives.

“The CSU is also in discussions with additional stakeholders, including the police, probation and social services, around how we can provide even wider access to the information outlined to further safeguard children.”

The initial stage of the project, which will commence in July, will provide around a 100 GPs with access to pilot the system. A review will then be held in the autumn before a final decision on whether to rollout to the full GP population is made.

The CSU’s vision is to centrally host the portal platform for providers of NHS services across the Central CSU region, including community health, mental health and acute NHS hospitals to utilise on a 'software as a service' basis.

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Dianne Nixon, director of strategic systems development EMEA for Harris Healthcare, said: “Central Eastern CSU is demonstrating the true potential that open data sharing can provide in improving patient safety and care. The organisation is removing some of the technical barriers to integration, which is a critical factor in enabling inter-agency transparency. We are excited to work with such a visionary CSU and the opportunities that the relationship will bring in providing truly joined-up care.”