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There was a “significant backlog” in processing safeguarding concerns received by the safeguarding and protection team (SPT) in Community Healthcare Organisation 7 (CHO 7), partly due to staff shortages, according to the 2019 annual report of the HSE National Safeguarding Office (NSO).
CHO 7 encompasses Kildare/west Wicklow, Dublin west, Dublin south city, and Dublin south west.
The NSO report included 1,000 concerns in CHO 7, which were received by the STP, but not logged “in detail” on the safeguarding system.
This was due to staff shortages and the impact of significant reporting of institutional abuse notifications in the area.
The situation had “seriously impacted” on the capacity of the SPT to deliver a safe service and progress work in a timely manner, stated the annual report.
A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent the team has since reached its fully funded staffing level. “The HSE safeguarding and protection team in CHO 7 can confirm that steps have been taken to address the backlog and the logging of data in regard to the reported issues. Safeguarding remains the responsibility of the service which the person attends.”
The SPT continues to work “on the backlog of cases in addition to their work on duty and community cases. There has been a significant decrease in this backlog since March due to the restructuring of the team, review of caseloads, scheduled blitz weeks and the strengthening of links with referring services.”
Nationally, there was a marginal increase of 1 per cent in the number of safeguarding concerns received (11,929) compared with 2018 figures.
Some 72 per cent of notifications related to adults less than 65 years of age. In this age-range, the most significant category of alleged abuse was physical abuse followed by psychological abuse.
For persons aged over 65, the most significant categories of alleged abuse were psychological abuse, physical abuse, and financial abuse.
In 58 per cent of cases, the person allegedly causing concern was another service-user/peer, followed by immediate family member (20 per cent) and staff (13 per cent).
The NSO co-ordinates and leads the implementation of the HSE’s policy on safeguarding vulnerable persons at risk of abuse in the HSE Social Care Division.
The Department of Health is developing a national adult safeguarding policy for the health sector.