Research to help safeguard children at risk

Published: 13 January 2014 at 13:29

Dr Forge to discuss work on improving A&E records during Anglia Ruskin talk

The role of how Accident and Emergency records can be used to safeguard children at risk will be discussed during a special public lecture at Anglia Ruskin University on Wednesday, 29 January (5pm).

The issue of ineffective documentation and information sharing was thrown into the spotlight by the cases of Victoria Climbié, Peter Connelly, Daniel Pelka and, most recently, Hamzah Khan, whose decomposed body was found in a cot at his home.

Dr Joyce Forge will present work from her six-year PhD research programme ‘Safeguarding Children: Child Records in Accident and Emergency – The Perspectives of Staff’ during the free public talk at Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus.

When every child attends A&E, a form is completed containing personal details, a description of the injury, how the injury occurred, and the course of action taken.  Dr Forge’s research, carried out within a Primary Care Trust, found that staff believe that written records are a good tool for communication, but existing records failed to focus satisfactorily on the child and therefore risks factors were not always recognised. 

Dr Forge, who had worked as a general nurse, a community midwife and a health visitor before studying for her PhD at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“The main outcome from my research was to change the design of records at this particular Trust.
“The old A&E child records were in an A5 leaflet format, and only demographic details such as the child’s name and address were computerised.  The written content, which was considerable, contained headings on densely printed pages in small font sizes.
“The new documentation is now in an A4 format.  This is generated on a computer when details are taken by receptionists on the child’s arrival in A&E.  A copy is printed so that nurses and doctors can manually enter clinical details.
“Once the child has either been admitted to hospital or discharged, the details are then scanned in and the paper copy shredded.  There is a single page of clinical notes dedicated to addressing safeguarding issues, and practitioners find the new design far more effective.
“To help ensure that children at risk can be identified, this new documentation could be adapted by other A&E departments to suit their particular needs.  I hope the publication and discussion of my work will stimulate further research on this important and often overlooked topic.”

Dr Forge’s talk is open to the public and is free to attend.  For further information or to reserve a place, please email