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Resolving Inter Agency Disagreements (Escalation Procedure)

This is taken from Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Board (NCSCB) and Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB)’ Safeguarding Children Procedure Manual, Resolving Professional Disagreements (Escalation Procedure).

Effective working together depends on an open approach and honest relationships between agencies and a commitment to genuine partnership working. As part of this, there needs to be a system in place to enable disagreements to be resolved to the satisfaction of practitioners and organisations involved. The aim should be to resolve difficulties at practitioner level between organisations, where this is possible, but where not the disagreement should be escalated until a resolution is achieved. Disagreements should not be left unresolved.

It is important:

  • To avoid professional disputes that put children at risk or obscure the focus on the child;
  • To resolve difficulties within and between organisations quickly and openly;
  • To identify problem areas in working together where there is a lack of clarity in existing procedures and to promote resolution via necessary amendments.

Throughout any dispute between individuals or organisations, practitioners must remain child focused. The safety of individual children remains the paramount consideration.

Procedure

Initial attempts should be taken to resolve the problem. This should normally be between the people who disagree. It should be recognised however that differences in status and/or experience may affect the confidence of some employees to pursue this unsupported. They should consult with their line manager as appropriate.

If unresolved the problem should be referred by the employee concerned to their line manager, who will discuss with their opposite number in the other agency. At this stage it may be useful for the line managers to agree a meeting between themselves and the concerned employee, to assist with the exploration of the problem. If the problem remains unresolved the line managers will refer to their own line managers for consideration. This process will continue through the levels of management until a resolution can be found.

If the problem cannot be resolved, the matter will be referred to the Chair of the Nottinghamshire SCB who will offer mediation. Where felt appropriate, a mediation meeting will be set up involving as a minimum the NSCB Chair, the respective organisations’ Board representatives and the NSCB manager.

A clear record should be kept at all stages, by all parties. In particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the disagreement and how any outstanding issues will be pursued.

When the issue is resolved, any general issues should be identified and referred to the Council’s representative on the NSCB for consideration and to inform future learning. It may also be helpful for individuals to debrief following some disputes in order to promote continuing good working relationships.

It may also be helpful for individuals to debrief following some disputes in order to promote continuing good working relationships.

Timescales

The timescale within which the processes set out above should take place will be dependent on the nature of the disagreement and what this may mean for the safety of the child. In some circumstances immediate action will be merited and progress through agency line management routes will need to take place within 1 working day and, in circumstances where there continues to be disagreement, the issue will be brought to the attention of the Independent Chair the following working day. In less urgent cases the whole process should be completed within no more than 4 weeks.

End