A legal obligation for health professionals to report any child or adult believed to be at risk of abuse or neglect will be implemented in Wales in 2016, ministers announced today.
The proposals will update existing arrangements for children and introduce new arrangements for adults at risk.
The new powers will be in place for April 2016. They are being implemented as part of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which received Royal Assent on 1 May 2014.
“These new powers are designed to strengthen the arrangements we have in place to protect the most at-risk and vulnerable children and adults”
The proposals include strengthening arrangements to ensure councils are made aware of children at risk by introducing a new duty on local health boards, NHS trusts and other public sector employers, such as the police and probation services, to report concerns.
Meanwhile, adults at risk will be covered by a combination of a new duty to report suspected cases of adults at risk and a complementary duty for councils to make enquiries into whether that adult is at risk and if any action needs to be taken.
Social care professionals will also get the right – via a new adult protection and support order – to gain access to premises to determine whether an adult alleged to be at risk is making decisions freely.
A national independent safeguarding board will be created to give ministers a mechanism to review and oversee the improvement of safeguarding in Wales.
The national board will also support local safeguarding boards, which are being reformed and reduced in number to six safeguarding children boards and six safeguarding adults boards.
Health and social services minister for Wales Mark Drakeford said: “These new powers are designed to strengthen the arrangements we have in place to protect the most at-risk and vulnerable children and adults in Wales.”
He said the new legal framework would increase the emphasis on preventative action, bring people closer to decisions about the services that affect them, and address the challenges of economic and demographic change.