“Safeguarding board develops child death data collection system”

By Joe Lepper

| 22 September 2015

A local safeguarding children's board has this week launched an electronic system it hopes will revolutionise the way child deaths are recorded and monitored across England.

Kent Safeguarding Children Board has been working with technology firm QES to create eCDOP, a web-based data recording system that will improve the way the county's child death overview panel collects information.

Child deaths collected using eCDOP are submitted online, securely stored and there are built-in checks to avoid duplication, such as when more than one person reports the same death or when deaths from neighbouring council areas are submitted by mistake.

Sue Gower, programme development officer for the board, expects the system to be more widely adopted and said that at least six other local safeguarding children boards are currently interested in using it.

In addition, Gower hopes to meet with the Department for Education later this year to discuss ways in which the system can be rolled out England-wide and link in with the government’s statutory annual return on child deaths, which it collects from all local areas.

Gower said: “If the DfE had back-end access to the system, it could look at real-time information, and if all panels had this system, it would give the government a real-time national database.”

She added that the main improvement for Kent and others using the system will be “in the speed and efficiency, and cutting down on administration time” both in terms of how it collects and uses the information to monitor and alert partners across health and education of local trends in child deaths.

The eCDOP in Kent is already linked up with a similar system of recording child deaths used by the county’s health trusts.

Gower said: “Before this system went live, deaths would be faxed to us, emailed or sent as hard copy. It’s very disparate and if a fax doesn’t arrive, there is a delay. It is also not as secure, with information collected often on a spread sheet.”

A national database of collecting CDOP data was first mooted in a DfE-commissioned research paper in 2013 by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford.