The Nursing and Midwifery Council has called on nurses to play a “key role” in new boards being set up to safeguard vulnerable adults.
The government last week set out proposals to tighten the law on safeguarding adults.
Under the plans, announced on 16 May by care services minister Paul Burstow, every local authority will be legally required to set up a safeguarding adults board to protect those most at risk.
The boards will comprise a range of local partners including members from health organisations, councils and the police.
Mr Burstow said: “The government’s policy objective is to prevent and reduce the risk of significant harm to vulnerable adults from abuse or other types of exploitation, whilst supporting individuals in maintaining control over their lives and in making informed choices without coercion.”
Responding to the proposals, the nursing regulator called for “nurses and midwives to play a key role on the boards”.
NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said the announcement “sends a significant message about the importance of adult safeguarding”.
He said: “Putting these boards on a legal footing will ensure that a wide range of agencies pool their efforts to tackle the problem. The important role that nurses and midwives can play in the process should not be overlooked.”
However, Professor Weir-Hughes also reminded the profession that safeguarding formed part of the everyday practice of all nurses and midwives.
“Nurses and midwives already have this duty of care and they should not think that today’s announcement detracts from that. It remains a very important part of the job,” he said.