It is everybody’s responsibility to recognise when adult abuse is suspected or at risk of occurring, and to take appropriate action. When an allegation or a concern is suspected, it will be immediately be passed onto the safeguarding lead, line manager or designated officer with authority to carry out the actions with the practices own safeguarding procedures. If a manager is not available, staff at all levels within the practice are trained in the knowledge what to do if this is likely to occur.
Where abuse of a vulnerable adult is suspected, the welfare of the patient takes priority. In deciding whether to disclose concerns to a third party or other agency, the GP will assess the risk to the patient. Ideally the matter should be discussed with the patient involved first, and attempts made to obtain consent to refer the matter to the appropriate agency. Where this is not possible, or in the case of emergency where serious harm is to be prevented, the patient’s doctor will balance the need to protect the patient with the duty of confidentiality before deciding whether to refer. The patient should usually be informed that the doctor intends to disclose information, and advice and support should be offered. The practice will seek consent from vulnerable people to share information with carers / next of kin and log the results of this. Due regard will be taken of the patient’s capacity to provide a valid consent.
In assessing the risk to the individual, the following factors will be considered:
• Nature of abuse, and severity
• Chance of recurrence, and when
• Frequency