New framework to help staff protect vulnerable people

Hands holding paper cut-outs of people


This document provides guidance for people working to prevent and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect of adults. It is aimed at NHS staff and their partners in education and social care and has been developed in partnership with the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the NHS and the social care system. It has been updated to the changes due to take place in the NHS from April 2013, and it replaces “Arrangements to secure children’s and adult safeguarding in the future NHS.”

NHS reform

Child sitting on stairs looking sadVulnerable people need greater protection as they may not fully understand what is happening to them. This framework explains how the new NHS will work and what effect it will have on commissioning services to protect vulnerable adults and children. It complements the Francis Report, which looked into the poor standards of care delivered at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Aims of the framework

While it focuses on safeguarding children, the principles can be applied to adults too. The framework has five key aims:

  1. to support partnership working between health, social care, and education, so that vulnerable people are protected from abuse;
  2. to ensure that everyone is clear about their responsibilities with regards to safeguarding, and is provided with adequate training;
  3. to explain how the new system will work and be accountable both locally and nationally;
  4. to make sure that the right expertise are always employed; and
  5. to set out a series of principles that all staff can work towards to ensure equal services for all vulnerable people.

The new NHS and partner organisations

Even though changes are being made in the NHS, every organisation that receives NHS funding, has to make sure that the care delivered to vulnerable people is of the highest and safest standard. The framework isn’t aiming to create new policies, but instead will monitor the performance of all organisations to ensure that they are working together safely and effectively, providing seamless services so that the patient experience is improved. Organisations that are discussed include: NHS Commissioning Board, health service providers, Public Health England (PHE), Health Education England (HEE), and the Department of Health.

Protecting vulnerable people is complicated as there may be many organisations involved, each with different priorities, but all with the same goal, patient care.


Hand holding a walking stickThis document is important as it provides the foundations for co-operative working between all agencies involved in caring for vulnerable people. It builds on the NHS goal to make all services patient-centric, and provides guidance on how to do this with partner organisations, including best practice for information sharing, which becomes more complex as data needs to be shared between organisations and not just across one.

When reading this document, think about how your organisation will work with partner organisations. Do your in-house systems apply the guidance provided in this framework? Do all staff understand their roles and responsibilities and do they know about the new NHS?


Safeguarding vulnerable people in the reformed NHS: accountability and assurance framework (PDF)
NHS Commissioning Board
March 2013

Supporting material

The Francis Report: Independent inquiry into care provided by Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (PDF)

Child protection clinical networks: protecting children, supporting clinicians (PDF)


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Caroline De Brún

Caroline De Brún

Caroline has been a medical librarian in a variety of NHS and academic roles since 1999, working in academic, primary and secondary care settings, service improvement, knowledge management, and on several high profile national projects. She has a PhD in Computing and currently develops resources to support evidence-based cost and quality, including QIPP @lert, a blog highlighting key reports from health care and other sectors related to service improvement and QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity, Prevention). She also delivers training and resources to support evidence identification and appraisal for cost, quality, service improvement, and leadership. She is co-author of the Searching Skills Toolkit, which aims to support health professionals' searching for best quality clinical and non-clinical evidence. Her research interests are health management, commissioning, public health, consumer health information literacy, and knowledge management. She currently works as a Knowledge and Evidence Specialist for Public Health England, and works on the Commissioning Elf in her spare time.

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