Safeguarding policy

Related Pages

This policy has been formulated for the protection of any children, young persons or adults in vulnerable circumstances who come into contact with the Medical Schools Council (MSC), but it is also intended to safeguard the interests of staff and students who work or come into contact with such persons. This policy details the procedures that need to be followed when there is concern about the welfare of a child, a disclosure of abuse has been made, or if an allegation is made to or against a member of staff. 

Overview

The Medical Schools Council carries out activities that bring our employees and people working on behalf of our organisation into contact with children and young people.

The Medical Schools Council is committed to ensuring so far as is reasonably practicable the safety of children[1], young persons and adults in vulnerable circumstances who are engaged in Medical Schools Council activities at any location, including online.

Definitions

Child – The law defines a child as being any person under the age of 18.

Young Person – For the purpose of this policy and procedures a ‘young person’ is anyone between the ages of 0-18 and includes those aged 18 up to their 19th birthday, who are still in full-time education at school or sixth form college (but not those at university).

Vulnerable adult – A vulnerable adult is someone who is aged 18 or over who has either a dependency upon others in the performance of, or a requirement for assistance in the performance of basic functions; a severe impairment in the ability to communicate with others; or has a reduced ability to protect themselves from assault, abuse or neglect.

Safeguarding – Defined by the Government’s Working Together to Safeguard Children policy July 2018 as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Members of staff – Includes all staff and engaged workers at the MSC including occasional external speakers.

Abuse – A person may abuse a child or an adult at risk by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.

Principles

The welfare of the child is paramount, as enshrined in the Children’s Act (1989 and 2004). MSC believes that every young person has the right to be in a safe and caring environment and to feel protected from harm and abuse. They have the right to expect people in a position of responsibility or trust to do everything possible to uphold these rights.

MSC staff have been recruited safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made. Appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will be conducted as necessary on members of staff who will come into contact with young people. If a guest speaker does not have a DBS, member of staff will accompany them during their session.

Members of staff are aware of the MSC Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and procedures. Relevant university members are trained and updated of changes to the policy.

MSC will work closely with other organisations to safeguard children. Using our safeguarding procedures we will share concerns and relevant information with schools and other relevant agencies, and involve children, young people, families and carers appropriately.

MSC have clear procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against members of staff and current students.

Communicating this policy and concerns

All members of staff at the MSC will be made aware of this policy. 

Furthermore, a copy of this policy will be given to all relevant bodies with whom we work if requested, and will be made available via our website to parents and carers of children/young persons with whom we plan to work.

Any concerns about this policy or people involved should be addressed to the Chief Executive or the Chair of Council.

Concerns of Abuse, Bullying or Radicalisation

Any concern that a member of staff has that a young person or vulnerable adult is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed, that does not involve one or more of the Designated Safeguarding Officers (DSO), should be raised IMMEDIATELY with a DSO.

Concerns should be subsequently documented.

The current DSOs are:

  • Dr Rachel Chall, Senior Policy Officer, Medical Schools Council
  • Lucy Chislett, Communications Officer, Medical Schools Council

If the concern involves one or more DSO, the university member should contact the Chief Executive of the MSC – Dr Katie Petty-Saphon. 

Do not talk about your concerns with anyone else.

The DSO will collect all details related to the concerns or suspicion and will immediately refer the matter to the appropriate statutory authorities. The statutory authority will assume the task of investigating the matter. MSC members of staff should not attempt to conduct their own investigation and should not do anything that may prejudice any investigations carried out by either social services or the police.

If an incident occurs outside of regular working hours (weekdays 9am – 4pm) then concerns should be raised with:

  • NSPCC 24hr helpline – 0808 800 5000 (NSPCC have legal powers to place a child into protective care)
  • Police – 101 or 999 (if they are in immediate danger). If a crime has been committed and/or the child or vulnerable adult is at immediate harm the police should be contacted immediately.

A DSO needs to be informed at the earliest available opportunity the next working day and the relevant documentation completed.

Appendix 1 provides the procedure for raising concerns.

Recognition of Abuse

There are four main categories of child abuse:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Sexual
  • Neglect

The MSC also recognises the NSPCC’s additional five categories of child abuse. These are:

  • Bullying
  • Online abuse
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Child trafficking
  • Radicalisation

Appendix 2 outlines ways in which it is unacceptable to treat a young person.

Disclosure of Abuse

A concern might be brought to your attention in many ways:

  • A young person might make a direct disclosure about themselves
  • A young person might make a direct disclosure about another child
  • A young person might offer information that is worrying but not a direct disclosure
  • You might be concerned about a young person’s appearance or behaviour
  • You might be concerned about the behaviour of an adult towards a young person
  • An adult might make a disclosure about abuse that a young person is suffering or is at risk of suffering
  • An adult might offer information about a young person that is worrying but not a direct disclosure

If a young person discloses personal information to you or you have information or concerns about abusive behaviour towards a young person it is your responsibility to report it to the DSO.

If a young person or vulnerable adult discloses an incident of abuse, or makes an allegation, the person who receives the information should do the following:

  • Stay calm and listen carefully to what they are saying.
  • Take them seriously and do not interrupt them.
  • Allow them to tell the story in their own way and at their own pace.
  • Find an appropriate, early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – you cannot promise confidentiality.
  • Reassure them that they have done the right thing in telling you and that they are not to blame for what has happened.
  • Tell them that what they have told you will be taken seriously.
  • Use positive prompts. Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer.
  • Explain to them what you will do next.
  • NEVER remove or let them remove any clothing in order to see injuries.
  • Record what was said using their own words as soon as possible – note dates, times, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
  • Contact a DSO as soon as possible for further advice and for onwards referral, as necessary.
  • DO NOT talk to other people about the allegations and/or your concerns. Others should only be made aware of this on a ‘need to know’ basis.
  • Never use electronic devices to record the conversation.
  • If they are in immediate danger, call the police.

A decision will be made about when and who should inform the young person’s family and the local authority social services department and the next course of action by the relevant DSO. The welfare of the young person is of the highest priority when making decisions.

You have a right to enquire that the incident has been followed up with the relevant agencies resulting in action to protect the young person.

Recruitment, Induction and Training

Those who are involved in situations where they have a sustained or prolonged unsupervised access to children are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders legislation. This means that prospective employees, workers and volunteers must declare all criminal convictions, however long ago; and these will be taken into account when deciding on their suitability for working with children.

No one will be permitted to undertake a role that involves regular contact with children or young people without a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. All staff working on outreach with young people will also have to undertake the NSPCC online course Child Protection in Schools and an e-learning training on Prevent provided by the Home Office as an introduction to the Prevent duty to safeguard vulnerable young people from being radicalised to support terrorism or becoming a terrorist themselves.

As part of their induction all staff, workers and volunteers will be instructed on their safeguarding and child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has concerns about a young person’s safety or welfare as outlined in this document.

Risk Assessments

All activities or assignments involving young people must be planned in advance to ensure they take into account the age range and ability of the participants and a risk assessment produced. Risk assessments should be carried out for all MSC-led activities that involve young people or vulnerable adults.

Risk assessments must be kept up to date and be reviewed each year. They must be kept on file and be easily accessible.

When the MSC is running activities on behalf of partner organisations, a risk assessment must be requested from the partner and an electronic copy kept on file.

All MSC members must be made aware of all risks that are involved with any activities that are being run.

If an activity is deemed as too hazardous then it will not be undertaken.

All MSC members of staff should avoid working alone with a young person wherever possible. You should plan your work so that at least two adults are present at any time, where possible including an employee.

Photography and images

Only designated employees of MSC should take photographs and videos of the young people in our care. To protect these young people we will:

  • Seek parental consent and/or, if over 16 years, the consent of the young people for photographs and videos to be taken or published (for example, on our website or in newspapers or publications or with certain third parties and organisations)
  • Never allow organisations working with us to take photographs for their own use without the written consent of parents or students if over 16 years old.
  • Encourage young people to tell us if they are worried about any photographs that are taken of them.

Online activities

For the purposes of this policy, online activity refers to web based meeting tools (for example Zoom and Microsoft Teams), social networks, internet forums and blogs, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Given the rapid expansion of social media, it is impossible to list all possible types of media as they are constantly evolving and multiplying.

Members of staff should assume that all online activity is covered by this policy and should follow it both at work and to an extent in their personal life.

Participants will be sent an online Code of Conduct before the sessions. By attending the session, they are agreeing to the Code of Conduct.

All activity, where possible, will be recorded and stored. This may be used as evidence should any safeguarding concerns be reported.

Members of staff should:

  • Never share personal telephone numbers, email addresses, or other personal data with young people
  • Never publish material that is illegal
  • Maintain appropriate boundaries and manage personal information effectively so that it cannot be misused by third parties e.g. for ‘cyber-bullying’ or identity theft.
  • Be personally responsible for what they communicate on social media. Often materials published will be accessible by the public and will remain accessible for a long time.
  • Not make ‘friends’ with the young people we work because this could potentially be construed as ‘grooming’.
  • Keep any communications with young people transparent and professional and should only use their work computer and/or mobile phone for communications.

Data protection

All data concerning children should be kept securely and only be accessible to authorised staff members.

Working together to safeguard children (July 2018) states: The Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR do not prohibit the collection and sharing of personal information, but rather provide a framework to ensure that personal information is shared appropriately. In particular, the Data Protection Act 2018 balances the rights of the information subject (the individual whom the information is about) and the possible need to share information about them. As such, if there are legitimate safeguarding concerns, a child’s data can be shared with the Child Social Care office, NSPCC or the Police.

The MSC’s Data Protection Policy can be found here.

Appendix 1: Procedure for reporting safeguarding concerns

A member of staff receives information that suggests a child is being abused or at risk of abuse.

Is that child at immediate risk of harm?

Yes – Take immediate action to keep the child safe, for example by calling the policy

No – The member of staff should contact the DSO and discuss their concern with them.  The matter should be reported without delay. 

Staff member who raised safeguarding concern to complete a report. 

Does the DSO believe this concern constitutes a safeguarding concern as defined by the policy?

No – record the decision that this does not constitute a safeguarding concern.  Consider other appropriate action and involvement of local support agencies.  File the report away.

Yes – DSO to contact the Chief Executive who will seek advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer or Local Authority Adult Social Care Officer

Record action taken.  Consider other appropriate support.

Appendix 2: What abuse includes

It is unacceptable for example to treat a young person in the following ways, to:

  • Slap, shake, squeeze, throw, burn, scald, bite or cut them
  • Hold them in such a way that it causes pain
  • Physically restrain them except to protect them from harming themselves or others
  • Cause distress by shouting or calling them derogatory names
  • Take part in horseplay or rough games
  • Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any kind
  • Do things of a personal nature for the person that they can do for themselves, for example this includes changing clothing, or going to the toilet with them unless with another adult
  • Allow or engage in sexually suggestive behaviour with a young person or within their sight or hearing, or make suggestive remarks to them
  • Give or show anything which could be construed as pornographic
  • Seek or agree to meet them anywhere beyond the normal workplace without the full prior knowledge and agreement of the parent, guardian or carer.

[1] For the purposes of this policy, a child is any person under the age of 18 years.