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Many safeguarding nurses unable to focus on protecting children

UK’s most vulnerable are being put at risk, the RCN warns

Only two fifths of designated nurses for safeguarding children are able to focus solely on protecting children and young people, according to an RCN survey. 

More than 50,000 children have been identified as needing protection from abuse in the UK, says the NSPCC, though the charity estimates that a further 400,000 may be at risk.

Designated nurses for safeguarding children work to ensure that all health services have access to the expertise, training and resources necessary to identify children at risk and provide help as soon as possible.

But only 41% of the 60 designated nurses surveyed by the RCN last December said all their time is spent on safeguarding children and young people.

More than 30% said safeguarding formed less than half their role, and 8% said it made up just a tenth of their time. 

Almost 30% said they had to perform commissioning tasks unrelated to their safeguarding duties, and 27% had managerial responsibilities.

Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had no safeguarding team to provide support or assistance, and one in ten said they received no supervision.

RCN professional lead for children and young people's nursing Fiona Smith said: ‘Preventing child abuse and neglect should be one of the country’s priorities.

'Designated nurses for safeguarding children are an absolutely crucial part of this process. They need the time and resources to fulfil their role to the best of their ability. By failing to achieve this, more and more children are left vulnerable to abuse and neglect – and that is inexcusable.’

The RCN has also published a position statement calling on health services to recognise the value of designated nurses for safeguarding children, and to ensure that staff have the capacity and resources to fulfil their role. 

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'It is crucial that looked-after children receive appropriate care and support, tailored to their individual needs. Designated nurses for looked-after children, alongside designated doctors, are vital to ensuring this.'

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