Members of the Children and Young People’s Health Policy Influencing Group (HPIG) are deeply disappointed that the government’s review of children’s multi-agency information sharing has failed to deliver a concrete road map for change.
HPIG has been grateful for the opportunity to engage with the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) throughout the report process to highlight that effective information sharing between services is crucial for children’s health and social care as well as prevention and safeguarding. This was also successfully argued by members of the House of Lords during the passage of the Health & Care Act.
The Health & Care Act introduced significant improvements to information sharing between health and adult social care. HPIG hoped the focus of this report would be to achieve parity for the children's system, and address the distinct barriers faced by children's health, social care and other key partners, as well as setting out a clear policy on a consistent child identifier (CCI). HPIG are concerned that this opportunity may have been missed.
The report recommends updating guidance, rolling out more training and further exploration of the use of the consistent child identifier as a means to support information sharing; HPIG members hoped that this report would have addressed these recommendations itself and acted as a catalyst for improved information sharing in an ambitious and novel way.
The legislative requirements of the report were to outline how the Government intends to improve information sharing for health and care purposes and safeguarding, and to set out the government's policy on a CCI for all children, not just those at risk of harm. HPIG members welcome the reference to safeguarding in the report as “promoting the welfare of the child” but do not feel the report goes far enough in considering this in full. HPIG hopes that the spirit of the legislation will ensure that the next steps after the report publication will be concrete and prompt.
Baroness Tyler of Enfield shares in the disappointment of HPIG members:
“The potential for change from this report cannot be overstated and I had previously been reassured by commitments made by Government at the Despatch Box that we would see a clear implementation plan for a consistent child identifier (CCI). I am therefore disappointed that these commitments have not been fully reflected in the report and I look forward to continuing to work with Government to improve data and information sharing for all children and young people.”
HPIG members believe strongly that adopting a consistent child identifier would have a significant positive impact on multi-agency information sharing and call for urgent action to ensure that there are no further delays moving forward with implementation.
This report recognises and outlines many of the challenges faced by the systems serving children and it should be considered a launch point for further action to address these challenges, as well as explore additional areas for change. HPIG members are keen to continue to support Government and the sector in this endeavor. We hope we can work collaboratively to improve the report's recommendations and ensure the next steps positively affect the health and social care services children receive.
Hosted by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), HPIG represents a strong, independent voluntary and community sector voice on babies, children and young people’s physical and mental health issues in England.
Membership of the group includes over 70 leading national charities, Royal Colleges and professional associations engaging in advocacy, research, practice development and service delivery to improve babies, children and young people’s health.
It works for babies, children and young people with a range of backgrounds and needs, including but not limited to: disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs; children and young people in care and care leavers; young carers; and children and young people with cancer.