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2.5 Resolving Professional Disagreements/Escalation Policy

NOTE: in Oldham, please click here for the procedure to use.

AMENDMENT

In November 2015, additional local information was added for Manchester and Salford; an updated link was added for Oldham.


Contents

1. General Principles of Resolution
2. Resolving Disagreements 
3. Specific Processes
  3.1 Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage
  3.2 Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference
  3.3 Dissent at Child Protection Conferences
  3.4 Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan
4. Where Professional Differences Remain
5. Supplementary Local Information

1. General Principles of Resolution

1.1 Effective working together depends on resolving disagreements to the satisfaction of workers and agencies, and a belief in a genuine partnership and joint working to safeguard children. Agencies should work to the principle of restoring relationships and disagreements at the lowest possible level  so that each agency is satisfied with the outcome for children and families.
1.2 Problem 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.
1.3

When practitioners are not working well together this may have an impact on a child’s development or even place the child at risk of harm. Examples where practitioners have concerns about the welfare of children may arise where they perceive other practitioners are:

  • Not recognising need or the signs of harm;
  • Not sharing information about a child’s welfare;
  • Not accepting referrals for services;
  • Not delivering services according to the threshold of need;
  • Not co-operating in delivering planned interventions;
  • Not attending Core Groups or TAC meetings;  
  • Not producing Plans or minutes quickly enough.
1.4  At no time must professional disagreement undermine the safeguarding of a child. The child’s welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.
1.5 Where a practitioner does identify a concern, then that practitioner/agency has responsibility for communicating such concerns through agreed child protection procedures on the same working day.
1.6 Disagreements could arise in a number of areas, but are most likely to arise around determining the level of need, roles and responsibilities, and the need for action and communication.


2. Resolving Disagreements

2.1 Initial attempts should be taken to resolve the problem; the aim should be to resolve difficulties at practitioner/case worker level between agencies.
2.2 When there is recognition that there is a disagreement over a significant issue, which impacts on the safety and welfare of a child, the practitioners must identify explicitly what the problem is and have clarity about the nature of the disagreement and what the practitioners aim to achieve.
2.3 Differences in status and/or experience may affect the confidence of some workers to pursue concerns and challenge through the escalation process.  
2.4 If unresolved, the problem should be referred by the practitioner to their line manager or lead for safeguarding (for school staff this will be the designated person) who in turn is expected to discuss with their opposite number in the other agency.
2.5 A clear record must be kept at all stages by all parties to the disagreement. In particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the disagreements and how any outstanding issues be pursued.
2.6 Each partner agency of the LSCB should have  their own procedures in place for dealing with concerns within their own setting. On occasions where concerns need to be raised with another agency, practitioners should ensure this happens as soon as possible and that discussions are clearly recorded.
2.7 The Safeguarding Unit will offer consultation and advice on cases and will intervene to help resolve issues if that is appropriate.


3. Specific Processes

3.1

Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage

  3.1.1 If the professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and/or meeting within a time scale which is acceptable to both of them, their disagreement must be addressed by more experienced or more senior staff.
  3.1.2 If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above ‘first line’ managers (who should normally seek advice from her/his line manager or designated/named/lead officer) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of the respective agency/agencies structure.
  3.1.3 In Health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to the use of line management.
  3.1.4 At this point a meeting should be called to discuss the situation involving all parties. Records of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved. The outcome of discussions and agreed actions should also be recorded.


3.2

Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference

  3.2.1 The decision whether or not to convene a Child Protection Conference rests with Children’s Social Care Services. However, those professionals and agencies who are most involved with the child and family, and those who have taken part in a Section 47 Enquiry, have the right to request that Children’s Social Care Services convene a Child Protection Conference if they have serious concerns that a child’s welfare may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded. 
  3.2.2 Any such request that is supported by a senior manager, or a Designated or Named Professional, should normally be agreed. Where there remain differences of view over the necessity for a conference in a specific case, every effort should be made to resolve them through discussion and explanation.


3.3

Dissent at Child Protection Conferences

  3.3.1 If a Child Protection Conference Chair is unable to achieve a consensus as to the need for a Child Protection Plan, (s)he will make a decision and note any dissenting views. This will include the situation where there is no majority view and where the Conference Chair exercises his or her decision making powers as set out in Section 13.4, The Decision Making Process of Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure.
  3.3.2 The agency or individual who dissents from the Chair’s decision must determine whether (s)he wishes to further challenge the result.
  3.3.3 If the dissenting professional believes that the decision reached by the Conference Chair places a child at (further) risk of Significant Harm, it is expected that (s)he will formally raise the matter with their line manager and/or Designated or Named Professional in their agency. This matter should be discussed with the Head of the Safeguarding Unit, who will consider what further actions are required. 


3.4

Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan

  3.4.1 Concern or disagreement may arise over another professional’s decisions, actions or lack of actions in the implementation of the Child Protection Plan, including participation in Core Group meetings.
  3.4.2 The line managers of the professionals involved should first address these concerns.
  3.4.3 If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above ‘first line’ managers, the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of each agency.
  3.4.4 Input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to use of line management.
  3.4.5 Where the issue cannot be resolved, consideration should be given to convening a Child Protection Review Conference.


4. Where Professional Differences Remain

4.1 In the unlikely event that the issue is not resolved by the steps described above and/or the discussions raise significant policy issues, it should be brought to the attention to the Chair of  the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board, via the Business Manager,  who will determine the appropriate course of action.


5. Supplementary Local Information

5.1

Click here to view the supplementary local information for Manchester.

Click here to view the supplementary local information for Salford.

End