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More clarity needed over new protection plans

Concerns have been raised about how an agency set to strengthen the protection of children and vulnerable adults will operate.

The CSP is among those to raise questions about the Independent Safeguarding Authority and is seeking urgent talks with the body to clarify a number of issues. 

The ISA was the subject of a fringe meeting at this year’s CSP Annual Representative Conference. The meeting was attended by about 100 delegates, who heard about the agency’s role and implications for members. There was also a motion for debate on the ISA at Conference.

The ISA was set up following the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders, which raised concerns about the way information was held by different agencies and not always shared effectively.

The new body will gather and hold a register of all individuals who are working or volunteering with children and/or vulnerable adults. The registration scheme will begin in October.

The ISA will assess people’s suitability to be on the register using Criminal Records Bureau checks, police intelligence and other sources.

All working CSP members are likely to need ISA registration as it will cover all health professionals who are providing treatment to patients, as all adults receiving healthcare are deemed to be vulnerable.

The scheme is being phased in over five years. The ISA has said the costs of registering will be £64 in England and Wales, and £58 in Nothern Ireland. Details for Scotland are yet to be revealed.

Paula Porter, for Thompsons solicitors, said the scheme placed a ‘substantial burden’ on employers: ‘It will be a criminal offence if you employ someone and subsequently discover they are not registered.’

There was also a concern that the new scheme, though designed to simplify current arrangements, would duplicate existing registration for three million public sector workers, including physiotherapists.

Ms Porter said it was‘ too early to say’ if the scheme would be good for professionals or not. ‘There are too many points that need to be ironed out.’

CSP senior negotiating officer Elaine Sparkes said the Society had numerous concerns. Any barring process should be fair and transparent and include the right of appeal.

Ms Sparkes said physios could be vulnerable to allegations of inappropriate behaviour as they had close physical contact with patients.

There should be no duplication of regulatory mechanisms, she added. ‘Individuals should not have to pay twice, you already pay out to the Health Professions Council,’ she told delegates at the fringe meeting.

Further information : visit ARC reports at www.isa-gov.org.uk

Delegates backed a motion proposed by the national group of regional stewards calling for the CSP to highlight the issues surrounding the ISA to all members. ARC agreed the Society should work with other trade unions to ensure the scheme is operated fairly, does not duplicate regulation or require duplicate fees and protects the security of data.

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