Multi-agency safeguarding teams cut child protection delays, finds report

London's multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) programme processed referrals in less than a day and a half in some areas

Specialist multi-agency teams in London have nearly halved the time it takes to handle complex child protection referrals, according to a report by the University of Greenwich.

Researchers found the multi-agency safeguarding hub (Mash) approach, which has been running since 2011, enabled level 3 (high or complex needs) referrals to be dealt with much more quickly – from two and a half days to just over one and a half days in some areas.

The turnaround time for child protection referrals initially assessed as level 2 (low to vulnerable) halved from more than four and a half days to less than two and half days.

It is the first independent report into the effectiveness of Mash, covering five local authority areas in the capital and commissioned by the London Safeguarding Children Board and London Councils.

“The Mash approach has the potential to address some of the issues highlighted in serious case reviews,” said Cheryl Coppell, chair of London Safeguarding Children Board.

“All the evidence in this report, the first of its kind, suggests that working in this way improves communication and breaks down professional boundaries, which can sometimes act as a barrier to information sharing.”

Among the more significant findings, she said, was a reduction in the turnaround time of referrals to safeguarding services at all levels of risk. “This is a quantifiable improvement that makes children safer and is very encouraging,” she said.

She added: “London is an excellent example of how the model can significantly improve outcomes, with a hub running in 28 boroughs and the remaining areas set to follow.”

The model brings together a range of agencies in one location, including police, children’s social care, education, probation and health. Professionals share information so they can identify any emerging problems early, potentially saving children’s lives. It was first introduced by Devon council and has since been adopted across much of the UK.

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One Response to Multi-agency safeguarding teams cut child protection delays, finds report

  1. Holly Butler December 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    This blog identifies the positive outcomes of interprofessional working and as Social Work student, it is something I agree entirely with. It has been outlined in various Serious Case Re-views, that there is a weakened link in the communication of professionals. However, being student studying with healthcare professionals, and being taught interprofessionalism, I feel that the idea of Multi Agency Working is an incredibly difficult situation that is made out to be easy. Personally, I think Multi agency working is something that can’t be taught through training and it must be experienced, yet problems continue to arise due to the major culture clash when it comes to integrating health and social care as well as other agencies. Furthermore, it has been identified from various professionals that interprofessionalism is key in progressing with effective work with service users (Royal College of Nursing, 2006), but I don’t think it is the soul way to solve problems. It one solution that is supposed solve an infinity of difficulties.