Healthcare providers have for many years worked closely with local authorities, police and other agencies when it comes to reporting potential abuse and safeguarding issues regarding patients. With greater awareness of what constitutes abuse, not just physical but also emotional and psychological, the onus on healthcare organisations to raise the alarm and keep detailed records has increased.
During 2019-20 some 75,560 concerns of abuse were raised  an increase of 14.6% on the previous year. The number of Section 42  enquiries that commenced during the year increased by 12.9% to 161,910 and involved 129,525 individuals. With the recent change in CQC strategy that makes Patient Safety a top priority, now more than ever it is time for healthcare organisations to take a governance, risk & compliance (GRC) stance by focusing on patient safety and within that, safeguarding procedures.
Safeguarding requirements for healthcare providers in the UK
Across the UK, it is the statutory responsibility of those working in health and social care to help to prevent abuse of children and vulnerable adults. Healthcare providers are obliged to record concerns and ensure that patients in need of safeguarding are referred to a local authority, council social work or gateway service. The safeguarding team are required to report on safeguarding to both internal and external stakeholders.
Often healthcare staff are required to contact the local authority to gather information about the outcome of a referral. Providers are required to report annually to NHS England, Scottish Government, Minister for Health & Social Services or the Health & Social Care Board on the number of safeguarding and referral cases.
The need for a dedicated safeguarding module
According to our recent survey, 92% of customers who responded are using the Incident or Feedback modules to record instances of safeguarding concern. However, having talked to our customers at length about how they manage safeguarding requirements within their organisation, we were alerted to several key reasons for introducing a specific module for this purpose.
- Not all incidents are safeguarding concerns or referrals
- Safeguarding information includes sensitive data, a dedicated module makes it easier to keep those details separate
- Organisations do not need to report safeguarding data to the LFPSE service (formerly NRLS/PSIMS) which saves administration time taken to separate data and ensures no unintended sharing of data
- Keeping safeguarding data separate means that highly sensitive patient information is seen only by those with the authority and requirement to do so
- A separate module can be configured to handle the precise safeguarding requirements of individual healthcare organisations and local authorities
- Reporting is easier, more comprehensive and demonstrates that a robust safeguarding system is in place for regulators, such as the CQC.
Introducing DatixCloudIQ (DCIQ) Safeguarding
The DCIQ Safeguarding module keeps all information about safeguarding concerns and referrals separate from other data, helping to protect sensitive information and patient safety. It enables healthcare providers to efficiently capture and review safeguarding records, saving time and reducing administration. The module can be configured to match an organisation’s workflows, and to meet differing referral requirements of local authorities.
With DCIQ Safeguarding all concerns and referrals are easily accessible to those that need the information, making follow-ups and reporting to regulators faster and more efficient. Using the module protects sensitive patient information by ensuring that only those that are authorised to do so have access and avoids the risk of ad-hoc solutions, such as spreadsheets, that are hard to amalgamate, can be lost, tampered with, and provide no audit trail.
Other benefits include:
- Autofill information is taken from other areas of DCIQ, speeding up completion of forms, and ensuring cross references between systems
- All safeguarding referrals can be easily exported into documents to submit to local authorities
- Fields within the system can be configured to accommodate changing local authority requirements
- Dashboards can be created to analyse trends, gather insights and to help investigate conversion rates
- Proactively track patients where multiple concerns/referrals have been raised
- Assurance for regulators that effective and robust processes and reporting systems are in operation
For more information about how the DCIQ Safeguarding module can help your organisation to efficiently manage safeguarding concerns and referrals contact us today.
2. The Care Act 2014 (Section 42) requires that each local authority must make enquiries, or cause others to do so, if it believes an adult experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect.