Escalation policy

Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board (SSASPB)


Escalation policy, principles and procedure



  1. Introduction

   2. Policy

   3. Where disagreements may arise

   4. Principles

   5. Procedure (Stages 1 – 4)

   6. Complaints made against the Board

   7.   General principles


1.      Introduction

Throughout this document there is reference to ‘adult(s)’. The following definition is taken from the Care Act 2014 Statutory Guidance (March 2016).

The safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

• has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;

• is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and

• as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either

the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

2.      Policy

2.1  The Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Adult Safeguarding Partnership Board (SSASPB) expects frontline staff who work directly with adults to share information within guidelines outlined within the SSASPB Information sharing agreement and work together to deliver the desired outcomes through inter-agency working.

2.2  Good practice includes the expectation that constructive challenge and professional challenge amongst colleagues within and between agencies provides a healthy approach to the work. Where members of staff from any agency feel that concerns regarding an adult are not being addressed it is expected that the escalation procedure should be used until a satisfactory resolution is reached.

2.3  The process of resolution should be kept as simple as possible and the aim should be to resolve difficulties at a professional practitioner level wherever possible. It should be recognised that differences in status and experience may affect the confidence of some workers to pursue this course of action and support should be sought from the Nominated Adult Safeguarding Lead in that agency.

2.4  Each Agency should also follow their individual escalation procedures and safeguarding policy. If there is immediate risk presented to the adult the Police should be contacted immediately although in many cases, there will be time and opportunity for the practitioner to discuss the case with their line manager before making that decision.

3.      Where disagreements may arise

Disagreements are most likely to arise in terms of differing views regarding thresholds and eligibility criteria, a lack of understanding about respective roles and the need for action and communication e.g.

  • Where one professional disagrees with the action of another in relation to a particular course of action, such as closing involvement;
  • Where one professional or agency considers another professional or agency has not completed an agreed action for no acceptable or understandable reason;
  • Where one agency considers that the proposed action plan is inappropriate and that the adults’ needs and wishes are not being addressed or met. This could include where one agency feels that they do not need to be involved and another agency disagrees.
  • A partner agency of the Board may disagree with a Policy or procedure approved by the Board.

4.      Principles

4.1  Professionals providing services to adults and their families should work co-operatively across all agencies, using their skills and experience to make a robust contribution to safeguarding adults and promoting their welfare within the framework of discussions, meetings and case management.

4.2  All agencies are responsible for ensuring that staff are competent and are supported to escalate appropriately intra and inter-agency concerns and disagreements about an adult’s wellbeing.

4.3  Professionals should attempt to resolve differences through discussions and/or meetings acknowledging and giving consideration to any increase in risk from delaying any activity.

4.4  If professionals are unable to resolve differences within a reasonable timescale their disagreement must be addressed by more experienced and more senior staff.

4.5  Advice may be sought directly from the agency’s nominated Adult Safeguarding lead at any stage of the process.

4.6  All activity in relation to dispute resolution must be undertaken as soon as possible. It is expected that all stages will usually be completed within two working days to minimise disruption to operational or Board activity.

 5.      Procedure

Stage 1

5.1   In the first instance workers should raise the matter as soon as possible with their fellow professional, either verbally or in writing (by email) and they should provide clear evidence-based reasons for their disagreement.

5.2  The receiving professional must read and review the case (file), speak to the referring professional as soon as possible and attempt to find a mutually agreeable way forward via a meeting or discussion. If agreement is reached the receiving professional will advise the agency of the outcome and will confirm this in writing.   

5.3  The professionals involved in this resolution process must make detailed notes of each intra-agency discussion they have and record this on the adult’s file where possible.


Stage 2

5.4  If the professionals are unable to resolve the disagreement following consideration of the facts, they should raise their concerns with their respective line managers who should attempt to resolve the differences as soon as possible.

5.5  Each agency will need to define, through their respective scheme of delegation, who their appropriate line equivalents are.

5.6  It is acknowledged that some agencies, particularly in the Third Sector, may not have extended schemes of delegation. In these cases, peer support should be considered as a means of additional advice and support.

5.7  Most day to day inter-agency differences of opinion will require professionals to liaise with their first line manager or equivalent and they should always seek advice from their inter-agency’s nominated Adult Safeguarding lead.

5.8  If agreement can be reached the responsible line manager will advise the agency of the outcome in writing.


Stage 3

5.9  If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between line managers the issue must be referred without delay to the appropriate Head of Service, Safeguarding Lead, Department Head or equivalent and by the agency line manager to their equivalent service manager.

5.10          The Head of Service or equivalent will contact their relevant peer and attempt to resolve the disagreement.


Stage 4

5.11          Where a resolution is still not agreed the Head of Service will raise the disagreement with their Assistant Director or equivalent.

5.12          The respective SSASPB member should be alerted that a disagreement has reached this stage and any learning identified to be considered and forwarded to both the SSASPB Manager and the virtual Learning and Development Sub-group chair.

5.13          The relevant Assistant Directors or equivalents will attempt to agree a resolution between them, but if not - this will be finally escalated to the Independent Chair of the SSASPB who will liaise with whoever is necessary to help to make the final decision and will inform the professional who raised the disagreement of the decision in writing.

5.14          It will be highly unusual for many situations to reach this stage and in such instances,  there must be consideration of any learning points by the SSASPB. 

6.      Complaints made against the Board

6.1 Where a complaint is made against the Board as a body or a Board owned policy or     procedure it will seek to resolve any complaints informally in the first instance and then, if necessary, escalate the matter as appropriate to the circumstances.

6.2 Where a complaint is made about a partner agency of the Board the complaint will be directed to the appropriate individual agency’s internal complaints process and the Board will seek assurance that this has been addressed.


7. General Principles

 Professional judgement should be applied at any time when there are potential delays due to line management absences or unavailability and the issue needs to be addressed more promptly. It should also be used to identify the most appropriate line managers as it is acknowledged that line management structure between the many agencies in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are unlikely to be perfectly aligned. Professionals should always demonstrate respect for colleagues and when escalating concerns.