View Working Together View Working Together

2.9 Resolving Professional Disagreements and Escalation

Please also see Leeds Local Protocol: Concerns Resolution Protocol.


Contents

  1. Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage
  2. Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference
  3. Dissent at Child Protection Conferences
  4. Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan
  5. Where Professional Differences Remain


1. Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage

Principle: At no time must professional dissent detract from ensuring that the child is safeguarded. The child’s welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.

Disagreements over the handling of concerns reported to Children's Social Work Services typically occur when:

  • The Referral is not considered to meet eligibility criteria for assessment by Children’s Social Care Services;
  • Children’s Social Care Services conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before the referral is progressed;
  • There is disagreement as to whether Child Protection Procedures should be invoked;
  • Children’s Social Care Services and the Police place different interpretations on the need for single/joint agency response;
  • There is disagreement regarding the need to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference (see Section 2, Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference).

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.

With respect to most day to day issues, this will require a Children's Social Care team manager or assistant team manager liaising with her/his equivalent in the relevant agency.

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.

Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to the use of line management.

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.


2. Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference

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. 

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. Dissent at Child Protection Conferences

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.

The agency or individual who dissents from the Chair’s decision must determine whether s/he wishes to further challenge the result.

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. If this does not resolve the matter, it should be discussed with the Safeguarding Children Board Manager or their nominated representative, who will consider what further actions are required. 


4. Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan

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.

The line managers of the professionals involved should first address these concerns.

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.

Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to use of line management.

Where the issue cannot be resolved, consideration should be given to convening a Child Protection Review Conference.


5. Where Professional Differences Remain

If professional disagreements remain unresolved, the matter must be referred to the LSCB representative for each agency involved.

In the unlikely event that the issue is not resolved by the steps described above and/or the discussions raise significant policy issues, the matter should be referred to the Safeguarding Children Board Manager who will determine a course of action including reporting to the LSCB Chair.

End