Plan to put adult safeguarding boards on legal footing hailed

Care sector leaders have welcomed the government’s plan to enshrine safeguarding adults boards in legislation but expressed concern about how they would operate.

The plan announced today follows the Department of Health’s review of the 2000 No Secrets adult safeguarding guidance.

Jenny Owen, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, hailed the plan for the boards. “The decision to make setting them up obligatory will mean that issues of their different structures and roles across the country can at last be systematically addressed,” she said.

But Owen expressed concerns about funding them once they were statutory, saying there were already difficulties financing those now set up.

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse, agreed that funding was key to the boards’ success. He added that they also need to be given power to intervene in cases of alleged abuse.

“There’s not much point having the boards if they don’t have the power to intervene or they will be in the same position they are in now,” FitzGerald said.

Implementation was also a concern for the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, which represents mental health trusts. Director Steve Shrubb said: “What we do not want to do is to implement this in a way that’s so bureaucratic that it defeats the purpose.

“We need to make sure it’s implemented in a way that doesn’t take staff away from the front line.” He said there was much to be learned from children’s safeguarding boards and good practice in adult safeguarding from across the country.

FitzGerald had concerns over the timing of today’s announcement, saying that a delay of 12 months since the consultation on the No Secrets review ended made the timetable for legislation difficult. “We are out of time now and we may be looking at a new government,” he said.

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