Four years after scraping ContactPoint, a controversial database of vulnerable children and young people, the government plans to pilot a new system.
The Child Protection Information System (CPIS) is designed to improve the sharing of information on youngsters who may be at risk of neglect or abuse. Under current plans, ten councils will trial the software from 2015 and it also be rolled out across the NHS by 2018.
Costs overran during the development of ContactPoint, with a hefty £224m being spent on the scheme, but the Department of Health (DoH) claims the cost of the new CPIS will be just £9 million.
The new system will alert health professionals of any concerns regarding children who visit hospital emergency departments, walk-in centres, out-of-hours GP clinics, paediatric wards, maternity units and ambulances.
Lisa Harker, head of strategy at the NSPCC told Children and Young People Now: “In around 60 per cent of serious case reviews a lack of information sharing is one of the things that has been highlighted as a contributing factor to children not being protected or safeguarded properly. When professionals share information about a child’s circumstances it informs how they respond to a child’s immediate need and a system which underpins that will help keep children safer and save lives.”
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health both back the scheme. The former, however, has expressed concern about the risks of staff failing to update information, and highlighted the complexity associated with so many IT systems in place across the NHS and local authorities.
In July, the ADCS insisted that it was supportive of residential accommodation for children in care.