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Tuesday 25th October 2016

New Guidance to Improve Care for Vulnerable Patients

17th March 2011

The Department of Health has today launched four new sets of guidance to improve the care of vulnerable people in NHS funded care. The documents remind staff and managers across the health service of the importance of personalised care and dignity and offers practical advice on how to deliver this.

Recent reports such as the Health Ombudsman’s Care and Compassion report have highlighted shocking examples of failings in NHS and care services. While the vast majority of patients receive a high standard of care, no failings are acceptable. That is why the Department has been working with stakeholders including the Care Quality Commission, ADASS and Royal Colleges of Nurses and GPs as well as frontline staff to develop practical guidance for staff across the NHS.

The four documents being launched today are:

  • Safeguarding adults: The role of health service practitioners;
  • Safeguarding adults: The role of health service managers and their boards;
  • Safeguarding adults: The role of NHS Commissioners; and
  • Safeguarding Adults: Self-assessment and assurance framework for health care services.

By developing specific guidance for NHS staff, managers and commissioners the Department is sending a clear signal that safeguarding should be a priority for everyone in the NHS.

Practical help given in the guides includes:

  • A step by step advice for staff on how to investigate suspected neglect;
  • Six fundamental safeguarding actions for managers to take and a list of questions they should ask themselves to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities; and
  • Advice for commissioners on how they can build safeguarding into commissioning and make this part of their joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:

“Protecting the safety and dignity of vulnerable patients is the responsibility of everyone in the NHS. That’s why today we have published practical advice for all health service staff, from the frontline to commissioners, on how to safeguard patients by delivering personalised care that respects their safety and dignity.

“This guidance has been developed with staff and stakeholders to ensure they address the day-to-day safeguarding issues facing staff and managers. Small changes like ensuring all staff are aware of the full range of all the safeguarding procedures in place at their organisation can make a real difference to patients.”

Adi Cooper, Joint ADASS lead on safeguarding and Director of Adult Social Services for the London Borough of Sutton said:

“ADASS welcomes this new guidance, which will support health commissioners, providers and practitioners to improve their safeguarding activity for adults who are at risk of harm or abuse. We will continue to collaborate and work in partnership to achieve independence, choice and control, and protection for adults at risk of harm or abuse across the health and social care sectors.”

Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes said:

“As the professional regulator for nurses and midwives we are committed to strengthening the safeguarding of adults and welcome this new material to further support the professionals who care for them.

“Having contributed to the work of this health advisory group, we are confident these newly published materials will be of interest to a wide range of professionals and will support them in their understanding, practice and decision-making in relation to safeguarding adults.”

The Department of Health also recently announced that it would not be seeking any exceptions to the implementation of the Age Discrimination Ban, which is part of the Equality Act 2010. This is intended to send a clear signal that there is no place for Age Discrimination in the NHS.


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