THE culture surrounding safeguarding children in Rotherham Hospital is “generally poor”, inspectors ruled.
Staff do not prioritise keeping skills and knowledge up to date and safeguarding children was not “everybody’s business”, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found during an inspection of children's services.
A 0-19-year-old practitioner also missed an opportunity to support a vulnerable young person who had attended A&E after the electronic system did not issue a follow-up alert.
“This person was not offered support from the team following their visit to hospital and meant there was a missed opportunity to promote the welfare of the child or young person,” inspectors said.
However, the culture surrounding safeguarding children in the community was “positive”, the report said.
The urgent and emergency care unit, maternity services, the children’s ward, including the children’s assessment unit, and community services for children and young people were all scrutinised in July.
The short inspection was carried out due to specific areas of concern being raised.
A CQC spokeswoman said the watchdog had become aware of a number of incidents relating to safeguarding at the trust and carried out routine monitoring as a result.
Inspectors found staff understood how to protect patients from abuse. Most — but not all — had training on how to recognise and report abuse and they knew how to apply it, but the systems and processes they used made this difficult.
Leaders did not operate effective governance processes throughout the service and with partner organisations. Staff did not always take opportunities to meet, discuss and learn from the performance of the service.
The report said: “Although staff understood their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding children and young people, the trust’s safeguarding children processes, procedures and practices did not support the identification and protection of children and young people who may be at risk.”
Improvements had been made since the previous inspection two years ago in “capturing the voice of the child” and record keeping — but details of fathers were not consistently recorded which showed a “lack of learning from national cases such as Baby P”.
The trust was ordered to improve in 12 areas, including by ensuring:
- meetings where information about safeguarding children is shared are appropriately attended and effective.
- learning from incidents takes place in a timely manner and is embedded.
- ensuring records used for safeguarding children are complete, including sufficient information about everyone living in the household.
The report said: “Following our inspection, we put our concerns formally in writing to the trust and asked that urgent actions be put in place to mitigate the risks to children and young people.
“The trust provided a detailed response including improvement actions already taken or planned, all actions were due for completion by November 2020. This provided assurance that sufficient action had been taken to mitigate any immediate risks to patient safety.”
Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust chief executive, Dr Richard Jenkins, said the trust had already acted on the majority of the action plan.