Supporting guidance and documentation

Supporting families meetings (in-house practice meetings)

What are Supporting Families meetings?

They are regular in-house health meetings to share information about families

  • whose children (including unborn) are known to be on a Child Protection Plan
  • who are of concern to any of the team members. 
  • who may be struggling with one or even all of the known factors that are closely linked to child safeguarding.  They are parental mental health problems, parental learning difficulties, parental drug abuse, parental alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and families with domestic abuse.
  • who may be a risk to lone workers visiting the home

Aim of Supporting Families meetings

  • To share information including soft intelligence and provide support to identified vulnerable families with the children in the family as a focus point.
  • To peer review cases as a team and assess and analyse potential risk

The team should consist of

General Practitioner

Practice Nurse

*GP admin team member

Health Visitor

Public Health School Nurse



          *To arrange the meeting and responsible for coding of records and minutes of the meeting

Administration of the meetings

Cases are pre-selected and are discussed in confidence. Any team member can bring a case for discussion.  It may be necessary to provide flexibility in order to have good attendance for all team members. Certain staff may not be able to attend due to capacity or other issues. It is their responsibility to ensure relevant information is available for the meeting.  Attendance should be recorded. It should be made possible for any team member to phone in and form part of a case discussion.


The child safeguarding lead for the GP practice has a responsibility to ensure the Supporting Families meetings take place. It is important that any concerns or good practice related to these meetings are communicated with the Named GP for child safeguarding.

Where should they take place?

In order to view the family GP records it is ideal for the meeting to take place in the GP surgery.

How often?

This is dependent on the size of the GP practice population and the caseload profile.  It may be for example monthly (for 1.5 hours) with one GP attending but all GPs contributing and sharing information about cases. Feed back to the patient’s  GP or any team member not present is essential as well as ensuring the process is reviewed under practice governance arrangements.

In order to make it fair and realistic I have asked each lead of the members of the Supporting Families team to summarise what they feel is achievable from their point of view.

School Nurse (PHSN)

Public Health School Nurses (PHSNs) are based in Locality teams across Northumberland. These teams have a number of GP practices within each Locality to cover and do not have capacity to attend regularly. The majority of staff work term time only therefore attendance during school holidays will be more limited.

  • PHSNs will provide contact details including secure generic e mail addresses to each GP practice to allow for safe transfer of confidential information prior to and following meetings, to assist with the flow of timely information sharing.
  • PHSNs can also give information to HVs prior to the meeting, within realistic timescales, if they are unable to attend the Supporting Families Meetings.

Health Visitor

Health Visitors in Northumberland are currently aligned to GP practices.

  • HVs will continue to prioritise and attend the supporting families meeting to share relevant information for antenatal women, babies and pre-school children, and their families
  • If a HV is unable to attend verbal or written information, via secure generic email accounts, can be shared with the GPs prior to the meeting
  • HVs to share information for school age children, with information submitted by PHSN, if a PHSN is unable to attend and is agreed by  the HV/PHSN prior to the meeting.
  • HVs to negotiate with individual GP practices a mutually convenient day and time for the meeting (some HVs are aligned to more than 1 GP practice in a locality).
  • HVs to share actions/updates for clients discussed at the supporting families meeting with the named HV/PHSN.

Family Nurse Partnership (FNP)

There are 4 family nurses covering mainly central and South East localities in Northumberland, however they have clients across a much wider area and as such will be in contact with many GP practices.

  • As the Family Nurses work across several GP practices in Northumberland, the FNP Supervisor attends some supporting Families meetings on behalf of all the nurses. In other smaller GP Practices the Family Nurse may attend. Attendance will be prioritised and if the Supervisor or FN is unable to attend the Supervisor or FN will liaise with HV colleague in the team to share information.
  • In addition, the nurse should use the opportunity to update and / or inform the team of any FNP clients in the practice caseload with or without SG concerns. (A letter is already sent at enrolment).
  • Liaison will be by telephone or secure email with individual GP’s as necessary.


  • The midwife will attend meetings on a regular basis if plenty prior warning is given and there are ‘unborns’ to be discussed. Exceptions to this will be prior clinic commitments so advance planning of meetings would help avoid this.

Supporting documents