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7.2 Resolution of Professional Disagreement

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1. Disagreement at Enquiry Stage

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

  • The referral is not considered to meet eligibility criteria for assessment by the Surrey Children's Services;
  • Informal advice is sought and a social worker has concluded that a referral is required;
  • Surrey Children's Services conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before the referral is progressed;
  • Surrey Children's Services believe that an Assessment can be started without invoking child protection procedures;
  • Surrey Children's Services consider that child protection procedures must be invoked;
  • Surrey Children's Services and the Police Public Protection Investigation Unit (PPIU) place different interpretations on the need for single/joint agency responses;
  • There is disagreement regarding the justification for convening/not convening an Initial 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 / more senior staff.

With respect to most day to day difficulties this will require a Surrey Children's Services Service assistant team manager liaising with her/his equivalent in the relevant agency, e.g.:

If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above ‘first line’ managers (who should normally seek advice from her/his Designated Professional or Named Professional or child protection adviser) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management to the equivalent of team manager/Detective Inspector/Head Teacher or other Designated Professional.

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

At this point a meeting may be called to discuss the situation involving all involved. Records of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved.

2. Disagreement at Child Protection Conference

If the Conference Chair is unable to achieve a consensus as to whether or not the child should be made subject to a Child Protection Plan, s/he will make a decision and note any dissenting views within the child protection conference minutes. The person(s) with the dissenting view(s) must ensure that the wording is a true reflection of the opinion given at the conference.

The agency or individual who disagrees with the Conference Chairs 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 the Manager of the Safeguarding Children Unit.

The Manager of the Safeguarding Children Unit will liaise with the Conference Chair and either:

  • Uphold the decision reached by the Conference Chair; or
  • Require that the conference be re-convened.

See also Deciding and Recording that a Child Should be Subject to a Child Protection Plan Procedure.

3. Disagreement Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan

Concern or disagreement may arise over another professionals decisions, actions or lack of actions in the implementation of the Child Protection Plan, including Core Group meetings - see Implementing the Child Protection Plan (including Lead Social Worker and Core Group Responsibilities) Procedure.

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 to the equivalent of team manager/detective inspector/Head Teacher or Designated Professional.

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

4. Where Professional Differences Remain

If professional disagreements remain unresolved, the matter must be referred to the heads of service 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, it may be helpful to convene a Safeguarding Children Board sub-committee which has the brief to consider policy and practice or serious cases.


This page is correct as printed on Monday 24th of July 2017 10:28:53 AM please refer back to this website (http://surreyscb.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
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