How Kent LSCB developed a national solution for recording child deaths

By Joe Lepper

| 05 April 2019

A locally-developed digital solution for recording child deaths has been adopted nationally, with hopes that it will help prevent deaths in the future.

The system for recording child deaths can be updated easily via cloud computing. Picture: Adobe Stock

The eCDOP (child death overview panel) was launched by Kent Safeguarding Children's Board (SCB) in 2015, to replace the county's outdated and insecure manual system.

Local data is being fed into National Child Mortality Database (NCMD), which launched on 1 April, linking from local eCDOP systems.

Kent's previous method, which involved gathering information about more than 100 child deaths in Kent each year by fax, email and post, led to some deaths going unrecorded for months, and data being left unprotected.

Sue Gower, its programme development officer, explained that the idea for eCDOP began in 2014 due to concerns that the recording and reviewing system was "administratively burdensome and inefficient".

Since 2008, boards have been required to set up a multi-agency child death overview panel (CDOP) to review the deaths of children and young people in their area.

In 2013, Department for Education-commissioned research found that only a quarter of panels were fully managing the data by computer.

The researchers, from University of Oxford's Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, also found that just half of panels felt their data systems were adequate for their needs and three quarters said they were concerned about the quality of data being used.

Funded by the county's seven clinical commissioning groups, and in consultation with specialist software developer QES, along with Kent's Child Death Review service, Kent SCB rose to the challenge and updated themselves.

The eCDOP was developed so that it can be used securely via cloud computing.

"Each partner made a significant contribution and the system launched on time and within budget, with no training required," said Gower.

"It immediately replaced the manual CDOP process and was well-received by partners. 

"Child death information was secure and easily accessed by authorised users 24/7 using computer, tablet or smartphone - particularly beneficial for police and health partners."


News spread of its success and the system was procured by another 10 CDOPs within 12 months.

Statutory CDR guidance and the news of the national database followed, and then funding was agreed for all 32 of London's local authorities to implement eCDOP, led by Healthy London Partnerships.

Safeguarding children boards across England adopted the system, which has cut the time taken to record deaths from two days to two hours. It allows the direct inputting of details by health organisations and other partners.

As well as improving data quality, eCDOP has also cut down on delays around information gathering.

"Automated reminders are generated if information is overdue and cases completed more quickly," said Gower.

"It is also now possible to have oversight of child deaths as they are notified and to identify trends/issues i.e. suicide/sudden infant death.

"The backlog of cases has significantly reduced and new effective processes introduced."

Gower adds that eCDOP has led to further initiatives to use digital technology to improve efficiency in safeguarding processes.

This includes serious case review management system eCR, the Safeguarding Adults Reviews and Domestic Homicide Reviews and eIntel, a system of managing cases of child sexual exploitation, missing children and gang involvement.

"eCDOP is a unique and successful system that is now used by a majority of CDOPs nationally and which has underpinned the development of the UK's National Child Mortality Database (NCMD) - the first in the world," said Gower. She added: "A local system has become a national solution."

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