Adult Safeguarding Network

The NHS England National Network of Safeguarding Adult Designated Professionals is a network that brings together professionals across the UK. The group was established to work together on standardising national topics related to safeguarding adults. The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the Intercollegiate adult document have been reviewed and revised this year.

What we do

The group provides national leadership and an opportunity for healthcare organisations to have a voice and opinion contributing to the national agenda and related topics to support protection of adults. The group contribute via the network webinar sessions or direct to the chair. This approach will strengthen the national structure which is devolved to the Local Safeguarding Adult Boards for each area.

Adult safeguarding means protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. The Care Act requires that each local authority must:

  • Make enquiries, or ensure others do so, if it believes an adult is, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • An enquiry should establish whether any action needs to be taken to stop prevent abuse or neglect, and if so, by whom
  • Set up a Safeguarding Adults Board
  • Arrange, where appropriate, for an independent advocate to represent and support an adult who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry or a Safeguarding Adult Review where the adult has ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved in the process and where there is no other appropriate adult to help them
  • Cooperate with each of its relevant partners in order to protect adults experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect.

An adult at risk is any person who is aged 18 years or over and at risk of abuse or neglect because of their needs for care and support. Where someone is over 18 but still receiving children’s services and a safeguarding issue is raised, the matter should be dealt with as a matter of course by the adult safeguarding team.

There are six principles that underpin adult safeguarding and apply to all sectors and settings. The principles should inform the ways in which professionals and other staff work with people at risk of abuse or neglect.

  • Empowerment – Personalisation and the presumption of person-led decisions and informed consent.
    “I am asked what I want as the outcomes from the safeguarding process and these directly inform what happens.”
  • Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs.
    “I receive clear and simple information about what abuse is, how to recognise the signs and what I can do to seek help.”
  • Proportionality – Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
    “I am sure that the professionals will work for my best interests, as I see them and they will only get involved as much as needed.”
  • Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.
    “I get help and support to report abuse. I get help to take part in the safeguarding process to the extent to which I want and to which I am able.”
  • Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
    “I know that staff treat any personal and sensitive information in confidence, only sharing what is helpful and necessary. I am confident that professionals will work together to get the best result for me.”
  • Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.
    “I understand the role of everyone involved in my life.”

The aims of personalised safeguarding are:

  • A personalised approach that enables safeguarding to be done with, “not to”, people
  • Practice that focuses on achieving meaningful improvement to people’s circumstances rather than just on ‘investigation’ and ‘conclusion’
  • To prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults with care and support needs.
  • To safeguard individuals in a way that support them in making choices and having control in how they choose to live their lives.
  • To promote an outcomes approach in safeguarding that works for people resulting in the best experience possible.
  • To raise public awareness so that professionals, other staff and communicates as a whole play their part in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse and neglect.

“I know that staff treat any personal and sensitive information in confidence, only sharing what is helpful and necessary. I am confident that professionals will work together to get the best result for me.”
Service user


NHS England has been working closely with the Royal Colleges to commission the production of an Intercollegiate document that reflects the skills and competencies for adult safeguarding. The Intercollegiate document for safeguarding children and young people is being refreshed in the autumn so there is a unique opportunity to align the two documents ready for publication in the new year.

It has therefore been decided that the ‘Best Practice Guidance for Safeguarding Adults’ that has been in draft for some time will not now be published by NHS England.

If you need any support or advice please contact Anneliese Hillyer-Thake, NHS England Safeguarding Programme Manager,