Safeguarding: everyone’s priority

The CQC statistics on safeguarding reporting as highlighted on BBC Breakfast 18 February, look alarming, but hide some nuanced messages. Care providers in the community are required to report to the national regulator to ensure that they do not fall foul of CQC inspections that look at how they manage incidents. Should CQC find out that a care provider has not reported an incident, a provider could be rated as Inadequate or Requires Improvement in the inspection categories of Safeguarding and Leadership. Therefore, an element of the reporting is positive proof that providers are self-aware of what to report, as well as erring on the side of caution.

Ensuring safety is essential in the delivery of services to vulnerable people. Registered care providers are required to report safeguarding incidents twice; to their commissioners in health or the local authority as part of their contract monitoring, and nationally to CQC. There is a disconnect between these processes with often conflicting levels of what should be reported, as well as conflicting policies in the wider system. In Oxfordshire, the safeguarding adults team (Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board) has worked with care providers to implement a triage service, where initial concerns can be assessed before they are reported as safeguarding concerns. This has been in place for some months, following an escalation of reports. We have found that many incidents previously deemed as safeguarding can actually be dismissed with sensible action and further precautions. Oxfordshire care providers also work closely with the regulator to improve the current system.

The final hidden message is the workload that care providers undertake all day, every day in an increasingly under-resourced system. It is inevitable that the performance of health and care in some areas is, and will be, affected by continuing under investment in services. The headline symptoms will only get worse under the current economic regime, and this includes all health and care services. Instead of looking at what appears to be failing, care services should be congratulated for continuing to deliver good and outstanding services in the face of an ongoing lack of a coherent strategy from government.