Adult protection: DH ‘still considering legislation’

The Department of Health has sought to reassure adult protection campaigners that it is taking seriously the case for legislation on safeguarding vulnerable adults.

The DH was roundly criticised for failing to commit to legislation when it published a report in July on its consultation on revising the 2000 No Secrets safeguarding guidance, despite strong support from consultation respondents.

Ninety two per cent backed putting safeguarding adult boards, which monitor safeguarding arrangements locally, on a statutory footing. This would potentially place councils, health bodies and the police under a duty to participate in and fund boards.


The report was published more than three years after then care services minister Liam Byrne had first promised to consider legislation.

It prompted Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald, one of the leading campaigners for legislation, to say the government had “consigned adult protection to the wilderness”.

This month, in a letter to FitzGerald, the deputy director of the DH’s dignity and safety programme, Richard Campbell, wrote: “Underlying many of your concerns appears to be the fear that the government is not taking the question of whether to make boards statutory seriously. I want to reassure you that we are taking this very seriously and are currently working hard to explore the different policy options available.”

Assurances welcomed

FitzGerald welcomed the letter, saying he believed “some common understanding” had been reached with the DH on legislation.

Care services minister Phil Hope has pledged to make a statement on taking forward the No Secrets consultation before the end of the year, though any legislation would be introduced after the next election.

In a letter to adult protection staff and campaigners, FitzGerald predicted that the government would provide “some commitment” to legislation on safeguarding boards, along with a pledge to produce fresh guidance to update No Secrets.

However he raised concerns about the impact the general election campaign would have on policy commitments given at this stage of the electoral cycle.

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