This procedure provides for the resolution of professional disagreements/issues in work relating to the safety of children and young people.
Revised June 2017
- It is every professional’s responsibility to safeguard children and to act in their best interests. This means that they should undertake proactive problem solving where required in order to support effective multi-agency safeguarding work;
- It is also the responsibility of all professionals to present a challenge to the actions and decisions of other agencies where they believe they have evidence to suggest that the child’s development or their safety may be compromised;
- Robust professional challenge can be facilitated through consistent communication and information sharing between agencies, and through clear plans for children and families. Professionals should know who in the multi-agency network is involved with the child, young person and their family;
- The aim must be to resolve a professional disagreement at the earliest possible stage, as swiftly as possible, always keeping in mind that the child and young person’s safety and welfare is paramount.
The Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board is clear that there must be respectful challenge whenever a professional or agency has a concern about the action or inaction of another. Similarly agencies/professionals should not be defensive when challenged. Practitioners and managers should always be prepared to review decisions and plans with an open mind (see also Strategic Management Procedure, Resolution of Professional Differences).
- Conflict resolution is an integral part of professional cooperation and joint working to safeguard children.
- Professional disagreement is only dysfunctional if not resolved in a constructive and timely fashion.
- At no time must professional disagreement detract from ensuring the child is safeguarded. The child’s welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.
- Differing opinions could arise in a number of areas, but are most likely to arise as a result of
- differing views of thresholds for intervention
- Professional concern about the actions / inaction of another professional
- Disagreement over information sharing
- Disagreement over the course of action in an open case e.g. a decision about whether a case should be de-escalated or closed
The aim should be to resolve difficulties at practitioner/fieldworker level between agencies if necessary with the involvement of their supervisors or managers, by engaging in open discussion with colleagues in other agencies.
- There may be particular concerns when a case is about to be closed to Children’s Social Care that may lead to disagreement about that case being closed. The decision to close the case is ultimately the decision of the Team Manager for the relevant Children’s Social Care team, however the decision to close will be discussed at the Child in Need Review meeting or the Child Protection Conference and agencies should be confident in sharing their views on the ongoing needs of the child(ren) and these should be accurately recorded. Generally cases are not closed directly and will involve being ‘de-escalated’ from child protection to child in need or from child in need to early help. This allows further work to be completed by those agencies who may be involved with the family where the risk may have reduced to the extent that specialist support from Children’s Social Care is no longer appropriate.
- In order to ensure that the decision taken at the CIN Review or the CP Conference is a robust decision, agencies who have been invited to participate should ensure that they attend or that they send reports as requested so that their concerns can be raised at the meeting.
- It should be recognised that differences in status and/or experience may affect the confidence of some workers to escalate their concerns without appropriate support. Where this is the case, professionals should seek the advice and support of the safeguarding lead within their organisation.
- If unresolved, the problem should be referred to the worker’s own line manager, who will discuss with their opposite number in the other agency. Some examples are given below:
- Social Worker – Team Manager;
- Health Visitor Team Leader / Service Manager Universal Services or Named Nurse / Doctor;
- Midwife – Named Midwife for Safeguarding Children / Named Doctor Safeguarding Children for Acute Trust;
- GP – Designated Nurse / Designated Doctor;
- Paediatric Staff – Lead Nurse and/or Named Nurse Safeguarding Children / Named Doctor Safeguarding Children for Acute Trust;
- Hospital Doctor – Named Nurse and / Named Doctor Safeguarding Children for Acute Trust;
- CAMHS / Community Mental Health Team – Named professional, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (Mental Health Trust);
- Member of early years setting staff- Designated Person for Child Protection – Early Years Service, Early Years Safeguarding Manager;
- Police- within the specialist Child Abuse Investigation team, the management tree is Detective Constable (DC) – Detective Sergeant (DS) – Detective Inspector – Detective Chief Inspector – Detective Superintendent, Public Protection;
- Teacher – School’s Designated Safeguarding Lead – Headteacher;
- In the case of service working with adults, the manager of the professional / service involved should be the first point of contact.
NB – The current names of key personnel can be sought from the LSCB.
- Failure to resolve disagreements between line managers must be further escalated, by the line managers concerned. It is at this point Senior Managers may, as necessary, be required to intervene. See flowchart at Appendix 1.
- If there is no resolution the matter should be escalated to the Independent Chair of the Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board in line with the escalation and conflict resolution procedure. The escalation to the PSCB should be made via the Head of Service for the Safeguarding Boards using the appropriate form – Appendix 3.
- A clear record should be kept at all stages, by all parties. In particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the disagreement and how any outstanding issues will be pursued. When the escalation process has been used, the professional who instigated the process should notify the PSCB on the appropriate form (Appendix 2) of the reason for the escalation and the outcome.
Click here to view Escalation Policy for Professionals Flowchart June 2017