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Developing the role of nurse commissioners

  • Last modified date:
    26 April 2011
photo of Adrian Spanswick

Adrian Spanswick is Consultant Nurse for Safeguarding Children and Young People/Designated Nurse Child Protection at NHS Leicester City.

Adrian Spanswick is Consultant Nurse for Safeguarding Children and Young People/Designated Nurse Child Protection at NHS Leicester City. As part of his broad role, he provides professional and strategic leadership across the health community on all aspects of safeguarding and child protection.

Adrian works closely with the named nurses and doctors, and senior managers within the trust on the safeguarding children agenda, with a specific focus on protecting children from harm. 

He also supervises named nurses and works closely with them on serious case reviews. As a designated nurse, Adrian has a lead role in conducting the health element of these reviews – drawing conclusions and making additional recommendations.

‘This is an area of work that I feel has become bureaucratic and I hope that, following the current review of child protection by Professor Munro, the process will be simplified and more focused on putting the lessons we learn into practice.

‘Another part of my job is to contribute to the child protection training of frontline practitioners, which has a number of aims. It’s about making sure practitioners know exactly what responsibilities apply to their role, that they know how and when to make referrals, that they can interact with people from other agencies – ultimately it’s about making them safe practitioners.

‘We are working in a difficult area, and we’re often making highly sensitive judgements. It’s essential that we respect children and families, but nurses and other practitioners must also have a very clear idea of their duties and responsibilities in these cases.’ It is also important that NHS organisations understand their responsibilities and they comply with legislation.

With this in mind, Adrian worked with the SHA (NHS East Midlands) and designated nurse colleagues to develop a Markers of Good Practice performance management tool, which helps organisations assess their performance in key areas of child protection, such as leadership, education, supervision and safe recruitment. 

Originally for NHS service providers, Markers of Good Practice (2) has been updated to make it relevant for commissioners and to ensure continuity of processes across the region. This is a key element in the quality schedules monitored by health commissioners.

The partnership approach

Adrian also has a position on the Leicester Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). The board is an important statutory mechanism for agreeing how all agencies can work together – for example, through sharing information – to make sure they are effective in what they do to safeguard and protect children.

‘As strategic leaders, we need to demonstrate inter-agency working and listen to, as well as constructively challenge, each other if we are to be effective partners in protecting children and promoting good practice.’

But that’s not the full extent of partnership working for Adrian; he is an Honorary Principle Lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, has links with local safeguarding health networks and is a master trainer for the NHS Leadership Programme, which keeps him in touch with leaders in safeguarding across the health and care system.

‘Senior nurses have to show we are willing to work in partnership with other agencies and professionals. If we can’t do that, we can’t expect frontline staff to do it either. We have to work as a team and not discriminate by role – the children of Leicester City certainly don’t.’

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