Protecting young people from abuse is a priority for all and sharing appropriate information helps support professionals to protect their patients.
Ensuring that information can be shared, and seen by relevant, authorised healthcare professionals across a region is being addressed nationally through NHS England’s Female Genital Mutilation Information Sharing (FGM-IS) and Child Protection Information Sharing (CP-IS) solutions.
Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (MKUH) has been working with Cerner and NHS Digital to become the first acute organisation to go live with local system integration of FGM-IS. In parallel, the 628-bed hospital that cares for over 400,000 people annually, also integrated the more established CP-IS solution to enable wider safeguarding information sharing across the health and social care system – and both solutions are already showing their benefits.
Integrated within MKUH’s eCARE electronic health record (EHR) system, powered by Cerner Millennium®, FGM-IS and CP-IS ensure that clinicians and care team members can securely access critical information in a single place. By providing authorised staff with up-to-date, connected information at the point of care, MKUH is ensuring the right care professionals across different multi-disciplinary teams are equipped with the data and the tools required to help safeguard young people, through CP-IS, and young women in particular through FGM-IS.
Craig York, the Trust’s chief technology officer, highlights that the Trust “are always looking at ways in which we can improve the care we offer our patients, and we are delighted to be the first hospital in the country to embrace this new technology.”
FGM-IS has been developed because almost 8,000 women and girls who attend NHS services in England each year are identified with FGM, or have to undergo a procedure as a result of it.¹
Before the implementation of FGM-IS and CP-IS, care professionals had to carry out manual processes and checks that were both time-consuming and prone to errors, increasing the chances of not identifying patients with safeguarding needs, or those with a family history of FGM.
Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Milton Keynes Local Authority had previously raised concerns to the Trust regarding compliance of information sharing processes in place for safeguarding of children.
Now, with both FGM-IS and CP-IS functioning, the CCG have confidence that checks are being performed on appropriate patients and, through automation, that this is happening each and every time.
“The alerts have been really helpful and clear when identifying children who are on the national system. The alert flashes up and is obvious for staff to read, prompting them to check further the concerns within any historical notes.”
- Katherine Palmacci, specialist safeguarding nurse
CP-IS holds information on young people who are considered vulnerable or are on a protection plan, giving professionals visibility across the health and social care system and flagging those in need of attention. This helps health and care providers to provide better care and inform the relevant teams to help safeguard their young patients, enabling them to intervene if required.
Disconnected information and transient patients - such as those displaced from their home or area - can make it hard to identify safeguarding issues, and to intervene to protect young people. Previously, healthcare professionals only had access to information on children from the local authority, and even this had to be manually reviewed.
Integration to the national CP-IS system means information regarding looked after children or children with child protection plans outside of Milton Keynes is also available. Cases have already been seen from Sheffield, Southampton and London - previously, there would have been no visibility of any potential issues, but now action can be taken.
In fact, two-thirds of all CP-IS records now visible within the Trust’s EHR since going live are for children monitored by local authorities other than Milton Keynes.
Now, the Trust’s EHR automatically searches for FGM indicators 4,064 times each month, highlighting a patient vulnerability on six occasions. Similarly, CP-IS is being queried 6,862 times with 76 indicators being returned monthly, relating to 43 different patients.²
CP-IS is also saving the workforce time that they can now spend on more valuable tasks. Thanks to information automatically being flagged to professionals via Cerner Millennium, a member of the child safeguarding team is now likely to be able to redirect up to four hours per week to other activities. Also, team members no longer have to manually add safeguarding indicators to patient records on receipt of information from local authorities.
Every single time we can help keep a young person from harm, it highlights the priority of sharing information and the importance of integrating these solutions in digital systems. Automatically screening thousands of young people from across the country, is a huge achievement for MKUH, and Cerner, to celebrate – and one that every Trust should strive to accomplish.
“Integrating FGM-IS is a hugely important step for our hospital and our patients, allowing our staff to be better positioned to protect our female patients at risk of this illegal practice”
- Craig York, chief technology officer
2. Data extracted from Milton Keynes’ Millennium domain over 80 days from 5 Aug – 24 Oct 2019 and averaged out over 365 days/12 months.