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Resolving Professional Disagreements


Generally there are good working relationships between agencies, but occasionally there will be a difference of professional views. This protocol is designed with the intention of clarifying the actions required where there is a professional disagreement.

What Happens when Agencies Cannot Agree?

Stage 1:

If professionals are unable to reach agreement about the way forward regarding an individual issue then their disagreement must be addressed by more senior staff. In most cases this will mean the first line managers of the agencies involved discussing the issue of dispute and seeking to reach a resolution.

Stage 2:

If the issue cannot be resolved at this level then the matter must be referred up through each agencies line management structure without delay to a Head of Service or equivalent (e.g. designated safeguarding officer).

Stage 3:

If the issue cannot be resolved at Head of Service (or equivalent) level then consideration should be given to progressing the dispute through the further layers of more senior management up to, for example, Strategic Head of Service or Director level.

In situations where such senior officers have become involved in resolving disagreements between agencies and those disputes relate to the safeguarding needs of individual Adults at Risk, the LSAB Team must be made aware of this. The purpose of such notification is to help monitor interagency safeguarding activity, and to identify issues which may benefit from LSAB scrutiny. The agency which found it necessary to escalate an issue to such a high level in another organisation should advise the other organisation of their intention to do so.

It is acknowledged that some organisations have flat management structures. Where this is the case, the same individual manager may have involvement in more than one of the above stages.

Each stage (1, 2 or 3) should be completed within 5 working days (15 working days maximum).

Where there is a need for intervention to prevent a life threatening episode (for example risk of suicide) immediate action to reduce the risk of harm will be required by all relevant parties whilst the dispute is ongoing. In such circumstances, where certain agencies maintain a position of non-involvement and other agencies disagree with this position, the LSAB Team should be informed at the earliest opportunity.

Written records of all these discussions must be kept.

What Happens when Disagreements Need to be Resolved very Quickly in Order to Safeguard an Adult at Risk's Welfare?

Professional judgement should always be used. For a variety of reasons there may be a delay in managers at levels 1 and 2 responding to telephone calls or emails. When this occurs careful consideration should be given to involving managers at the next level of the management structure by letting them know there is a disagreement, that a speedy response is required to safeguard the Adult at Risk and that in the absence of such a response, they will be contacted to help progress the disagreement further.