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Public consultation on adult safeguarding in the health and social care sector

By Reporter - 31st Jan 2024

The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, has today opened a public consultation on new proposals to “further safeguard” adults receiving services in the health and social care sector.

According to the Department, the policy proposals outlined in the consultation aim to further prevent abuse, respond to suspected abuse and intervene as necessary in the health and social care sector, and to support adults’ decision-making rights. Reforms to strengthen the relevant existing legal framework are also proposed.

One of the fundamental questions that needs to be addressed in this sectoral policy is where to locate the sector’s adult safeguarding operational services and structures.

The Department has proposed that, on balance, there are “more advantages than disadvantages” to retaining and significantly expanding and enhancing HSE’s existing safeguarding structures and functions than there would be to establishing a new statutory agency (or transferring responsibility to an existing agency) and transferring HSE’s safeguarding personnel and functions to that agency.

Launching the consultation, Minister Butler, said: “Adult safeguarding is about fostering a strong safeguarding culture in every service and putting the right policy and legislation in place to reduce the risk of harm to adults who may be at risk of abuse.

“We want to ensure that every adult using health and social care services in Ireland is protected against abuse and harm.  Feedback from the public will help to shape the first national policy on adult safeguarding in the health and social care sector.”

An online consultation portal is now open, allowing people to submit their views on the policy proposals.

The public consultation will close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 13 March 2024.

The draft policy proposals for adult safeguarding have been developed by the Department in liaison with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, which has policy responsibility for specialist community-based disability services. 

Separate initiatives to improve adult safeguarding are underway. The HSE has commissioned a “high-level review” of its safeguarding policy, procedures, and structures. The Law Reform Commission is preparing a report and draft legislation on a regulatory framework on adult safeguarding (across all sectors).

For more information about the consultation (including information about Easy to Read and other response formats), visit: gov – Public consultation on policy proposals for adult safeguarding in the health and social care sector (

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