FAQ: How often do GPs need to do child safeguarding training?

We all know why childhood safeguarding training is so necessary for safeguarding children: after every high profile case of child neglect and abuse over recent years, the same failures and lapses emerge; poor communication and information-sharing between professionals and agencies, inadequate training and support for staff, and a failure to listen to children. So no-one begrudges getting skilled up in this key area.

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How should we get safeguarding children training, and what evidence will appraisers and practices want to see?

Thankfully, there is clear guidance in Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff, an Intercollegiate document from March 2014. GPs require level 3 competence. Highlighted quotes relevant to GPs from its 102 pages include:

  • Over a three-year period, professionals should receive refresher safeguarding children training equivalent to a minimum of 6 hours (for those at Level 3 core this equates to a minimum of 2 hours per annum).
  • Training in safeguarding children at level 3 will include the training required at level 1 and 2 and will negate the need to undertake refresher training at levels 1 and 2 in addition to level 3.
  • Training, education and learning opportunities should be multi-disciplinary and inter-agency, and delivered internally and externally. It should include personal reflection and scenario-based discussion, drawing on case studies, serious case reviews, lessons from research and audit, as well as communicating with children about what is happening.
  • Educational sessions could be a combination of e-learning, personal reflection and discussion in clinical meetings or attendance at internal or external outside training courses.
  • Safeguarding children training can be tailored by organisations to be delivered annually or once every 3 years and encompass a blended learning approach.

In addition to appraisal requirements, the CQC also takes a view on this:

  • The CQC reference the statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ which helps professionals understand what they need to do, and what they can expect of one another, to safeguard children. It focuses on core legal requirements and makes it clear what individuals and organisations should do to keep children safe.
  • “GPs in particular have a responsibility to ensure that all staff across their organisations have the knowledge and skills to be able to meet this requirement.”

Appraisal and revalidation requirements

Note that this intercollegiate guidance is talking about minimum requirements, and there may well be variation in how appraisers in different areas apply this. Indeed, it seems that some local area teams are piloting adding Safeguarding as an item in supporting information for appraisal, which may one day become nationally agreed.

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Take-home messages for GPs from this guidance

  • Aim for minimum of 6 hours of refresher level 3 training over 3 years (or minimum 2 hours per year).
  • Training and education can be a combination of various forms e.g. training courses, e-learning, personal reflections on cases or having read guidelines.
  • Submit this evidence to your appraiser every year, and if working across different practices who ask for evidence from you that you satisfy the CQC’s requirements, provide a signed letter from you stating that you submit this and any other relevant evidence in your annual NHS appraisal.
  • Ensure that the employing practice undertakes its responsibilities too by ensuring you have access to all its safeguarding information, ideally by giving you access to its Standardised Practice Information Portal.

So check with your appraiser. This guidance may be a useful reference if your appraiser’s requirements seem overly onerous or prescriptive.

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