Health and Social Care Law specialists draft response to Welsh Government guidance

4 May 2017

A neglected child

The Centre for Health and Social Care Law (CHSCL) has recently submitted a response to Welsh Government on draft guidance for practitioners who work on cases of neglect or abuse.

In 2014, Welsh Government used its devolved powers to pass the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which developed new procedures for child protection and adult safeguarding in Wales.

This year, between 31 January and 25 April, Welsh Government consulted upon guidance for practitioners on handling individual cases where adults or children are at risk of neglect or abuse.

Child protection and adult safeguarding are important functions for local authority social services. They are areas of law where tensions frequently arise between rights to autonomy, privacy, family life and protection. These are complex areas of law, where the stakes are very high if practitioners get things wrong or do not follow the correct legal processes. It is therefore important that the guidance is very robust.

CHSCL’s consultation response raised concerns that Welsh Government’s draft guidance was not strong enough, nor clear enough, to guide practitioners in this area. The Centre argued that areas like child protection and adult safeguarding are so important they need a Code of Practice, rather than practice guidance, because it places a stronger duty on professionals to follow the guidance.

The Centre’s response highlighted several areas where it felt the legal framework and the correct processes that should be followed by practitioners were not sufficiently clear. For practitioners working with children, the Centre felt that more guidance was needed on the interaction between the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. For practitioners working with adults, the Centre felt that more guidance was needed on how assessment and support planning worked alongside adult safeguarding, and the interface between safeguarding and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 – particularly the deprivation of liberty safeguards and the role of the Court of Protection. The Centre also called for guidance on handling cases of financial abuse of adults.

CHSCL hope that their response will aid Welsh Government in producing robust guidance that practitioners can rely upon, to ensure that practice is within the law and upholds the rights of those it seeks to protect.

Welsh Government is currently considering responses to its consultation on the draft guidance. Details of the outcome of the consultation will be published on their website in due course.