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London nurse visits Masters programme nurses in SA

Belinda Chideme, registered paediatric nurse and Named Nurse Safeguarding Children and Young People at the St. George’s University Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust for Acute Services in London, joined the Child Nurse Practice Development Initiative (CNPDI) at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital recently for an intensive week of teaching and working with the students on the Masters in Child Nursing programme. The CNPDI is run by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and funded by the Children’s Hospital Trust.

This clinical Masters programme is a first for Africa. When this first group of nurses graduate in 2017, they will be carving out new career pathways in the health system. Fittingly, Belinda is every bit as much of a pioneer as the nurses she is teaching.

Her career has seen her take on a variety of roles within the UK National Health Service. Initially training as a paediatric nurse at a major London teaching hospital, Belinda gained experience in paediatric critical care, haematology, oncology and community nursing. It was while working as a community paediatric nurse that Belinda’s interest in safeguarding was awakened.

Belinda explains, “You get a bird’s eye view of how children with special needs live, what they are vulnerable to and the pressures that the family is under.”

Safeguarding is defined in the UK as ‘action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm’. Whilst every health professional has a duty to protect children and young people, Belinda works as a Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children and Young People within a large NHS Trust. Belinda’s role requires her to be involved in policy and guideline writing, and attending senior level meetings in the Trust, as well as representing the Trust at several local Safeguarding Children Board meetings. Belinda also advises individuals and teams and reviews practices and events, including when there are allegations made against professionals. She contributes to national serious case reviews, educates staff on safeguarding practices, and supervises senior clinicians in their respective areas. Finally, Belinda’s role also includes being the point of escalation when there is a need to challenge decisions made by internal and external multi-agency professionals such as the police or social services.

Belinda has developed the specialist clinical knowledge, which she needs to inform her decision making, enabling her to have an in-depth understanding of the situations she encounters.  Although, predominantly a strategic role, it’s also hands-on, as there is need to have oversight of and take a lead role in all safeguarding children matters that come through the hospital.

Belinda has undertaken additional education and training to prepare for her role, including a recognised safeguarding children course. The purpose of her visit to South Africa was to share some of this knowledge with the first generation of advanced paediatric nurse practitioners at UCT.

Belinda is full of hope for the future of these pioneering nurses in South Africa. “They all have the ideas, they all have the passion. They know what needs to be done and they can work out how to make it happen. Ten years from now a new generation will come in, and the walls will have been broken down for them. But it’s about what you can do with what you have.”

Belinda’s visit was made possible by a travel grant from the Burdett Trust for Nurses.



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