Professionals working within all agencies including Adult Safeguarding, Education, Health, Police, Probation, Housing providers and voluntary organisations may, from time to time, experience disagreements over the handling of concerns relating to adults and the views of one person may not always accord with those of a professional colleague. This can occur when a representative from one agency expresses concerns about decisions taken, or the handling of a particular case, or there may exist conflicting views on how the case should be dealt with. The following process, which applies to professionals working in all agencies, should be followed. All staff who are making a professional challenge must be able to seek advice and support during this process from their agency. Staff must also record all activity relating to any professional difference and challenge in the agency records (in line with their agency’s recording policy).

See also: Escalation Flowchart

Resolving Professional Differences: Stage One

In the first Instance the action to be taken should be to immediately contact and discuss these concerns with their equivalent professional from the other agency (this list is not exclusive) e.g.:

  • Social Worker
  • General Practitioner
  • District & Community Nursing Staff
  • Housing Officer
  • Primary Care Mental Health Services
  • Probation Officer
  • Voluntary Sector Staff
  • Police colleague

The aim is that individual cases can be dealt with speedily and at the source of dissatisfaction and all information should be recorded and this discussion must happen within a maximum of 3 working days of identifying the concern.

Resolving Professional Differences: Stage Two

If conflicting views and/or concerns remain following discussions with the first line staff identified above, then the matter should be referred without delay through the line management to the appropriate manager within the organisation, e.g.:

  • Operational Manager
  • Clinical lead, matron
  • Detective Inspector
  • The organisation’s safeguarding adults lead
  • Safeguarding Health Advisors

The Receiving Senior Manager will discuss the concerns with the senior manager from the agency concerned. The professional with the concerns must complete the relevant proforma identifying the issues and forward to their line manager who will immediately send the proforma to the Senior Manager in the agency/organisation (listed above), requesting follow-up, which should include any action deemed necessary.

Raising the issue with the line manager can be done in written or verbal format but there must be a written record of the issue raised, the action taken and the outcome for the adult. It may be appropriate at this time to reconvene a multi-agency team meeting or other review meeting to discuss the issue.

Resolving Professional Differences: Stage Three

If the issue remains unresolved following the intervention of the first level / direct link manager it must then be passed to the Senior Manager / Head of Service (or equivalent). On receipt of the report and accompanying letter and in considering the expressed concerns, the receiving Senior Manager must read and review all relevant documentation, including the agency/organisation case file. Reviews should be conducted as soon as possible, commensurate with the seriousness of the issue and associated risks, but within 10 working days of a professional expressing concern, The outcome of the review conducted by the Senior Manager must be recorded in the agency file and the Senior Manager must forward a written response to the professional expressing the concern within 5 days of the review.

Resolving Professional Differences: Stage Four

Click here to access the Resolving Professional Differences Proforma.

In the unlikely event that the matter remains unresolved, the Senior Manager / Head of Service must pass all relevant reports and responses to the SSAB Strategic Safeguarding Team to be reviewed by the Quality Assurance sub-committee. The Quality Assurance sub-committee should consider the issues and feedback within 30 working days of receipt of the document by the Strategic Safeguarding Team. The Quality Assurance sub-committee Chair must send the completed proforma to both Senior Managers / Head of Service within 5 working days of the Quality Assurance sub-committee being held. As this part of the process is independent of the practitioners involved in the case, anyone who is involved in the case must not be present when the case is discussed at Quality Assurance sub-committee.

The Quality Assurance sub-committee will ensure this is reported in the SSAB Annual Report.