Safeguarding and information sharing: What you need to know in primary care

Safeguarding and information sharing: What you need to know in primary care

A Multi-Agency Partnership Review into the circumstances leading up to a murder perpetrated by a Hertfordshire resident was published on 9th October 2018.

The perpetrator was known to mental health services and had been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Their behaviour was highly volatile with rapidly changing mood.

Our internal review process has identified that there were failures to share information between agencies which prevented a full appreciation of the risk the perpetrator posed to the community.

Information sharing is essential for effective safeguarding and promoting the safety of adults at risk. It is a key factor identified in many safeguarding adult reviews (SARs) and domestic homicide reviews (DHRs), where poor information sharing has resulted in missed opportunities to take action that keeps vulnerable adults safe.

GP Practices are asked to consider:

• How is information reviewed and processed before it is filed onto the practice clinical system?

• Who does this?
• Have they had training to enable them to identify significant information?

• How is significant information flagged?

• How does the practice identify information that should be shared with partner agencies?

• The GP practice is often perceived to be the ‘hub’ of information for the patient. Patient information from other agencies may be shared with the GP but not with other significant services. Never assume that all the relevant information has been shared.

• Has the patient moved between services or changed address? This will increase the risk of valuable information being lost.

The Health and Social (Safety and Quality) Act 2015 sets a duty for information to be shared where it facilitates care for an individual and it is legal to do so. Sections 44 and 45 of the act clarify the legal requirement to provide information to a Safeguarding Adults Board if requested to do so.

Further information about good practice in sharing patient information can be found at the following links:

Gneral Medical Council: 

Royal College of Gerneral Practitioners:

Many practitioners are concerned about breaching confidentiality and the potential impact this will have on their relationship with the patient.
The RCGP Safeguarding Adults Toolkit provides guidance about report writing for adult safeguarding enquiries and breaching confidentiality under the tab: ‘Making a Safeguarding’ referral to your local adult safeguarding team.

Your professional body or union can offer advice regarding individual, complex situations. 
Processing and storing of safeguarding information in primary care is vital to ensure accessibility whilst protecting vulnerable patients, this includes appropriate coding and ‘flagging’ on patient records. The Practice Resources tab of the RCGP Safeguarding Adults at Risk of Harm Toolkit provides guidance about coding and management of information and recording of domestic abuse in general practice records.

East and North Herts CCG Safeguarding Contacts:

Hosted by Herts Valleys CCG - 01442 898 888

Tracey Cooper,
Head of Adult Safeguarding
Stephenie Evis,
Named Nurse for AdultSafeguarding

Last modified: 

09 Oct 2018