A new whistleblowing helpline for nurses and other healthcare professionals to speak out about child protection failures was officially launched on Saturday 13 February, by the Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime, Karen Bradley.

The NSPCC will deliver this service, which includes a helpline and email support, on behalf of the Home Office. The Government has provided £500,000 to set up the helpline in this financial year.

The helpline, which will be open Monday to Friday, will handle calls from employees from any sector, who are afraid to raise concerns about the way their organisation is dealing with cases of child abuse, or who feel they have exhausted all avenues with their employer directly.

Those working in healthcare have a vital role to play in preventing and responding to child abuse. Employees will also be offered advice about the whistleblowing process and will be legally protected from any future workplace discrimination arising as a result of their concerns. Any concerns raised will be passed on to relevant investigatory bodies to pursue.

The new service will highlight patterns of failure across the country. The NSPCC will work with authorities to gather information about reports relating to child abuse in order to identify and address trends sooner.

Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime Karen Bradley said:

"The new NSPCC whistleblowing helpline will be a vital service in our fight to end child abuse, including sexual exploitation.

"Every child deserves to be safe from abuse; and organisations that are trusted to protect our children must work as effectively as possible to achieve this.

"Some employers are making great strides in strengthening whistleblowing processes. But more can be done to encourage employees to report malpractice without fear of victimisation - particularly in relation to children where the cost of failure is so high.

"No one should be afraid to report concerns about failures in child protection."

Peter Wanless NSPCC chief executive said:

"If an employee thinks a child is in danger or has been failed by their organisation then nothing should stand in the way of them speaking out.

"Too often people with concerns have kept silent because they have been fearful of the consequences for their jobs, and this can have devastating consequences for the children involved. A feature of the child abuse scandals of recent years has been people who said they thought something wasn't right but were unsure whether they could discuss their concerns confidentially outside their organisation.

"The new Whistleblowing Helpline is a vital new initiative and will provide a confidential, safe place for anyone who has concerns and wants support or advice."

The NSPCC whistleblowing helpline number is: 0800 028 0285.

The NSPCC whistleblowing e-mail address is: help@nspcc.org.uk

Postal: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH.