Safeguarding people

Page last updated: 12 May 2022

Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. It's fundamental to high-quality health and social care.

What safeguarding means for people who use care services

Safeguarding children and promoting their welfare includes:

  • Protecting them from maltreatment or things that are bad for their health or development.
  • Making sure they grow up in circumstances that allow safe and effective care.

Safeguarding adults includes:

  • Protecting their rights to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
  • People and organisations working together to prevent the risk of abuse or neglect, and to stop them from happening.
  • Making sure people's wellbeing is promoted, taking their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs into account.

We help to safeguard people by:

  • Using information we receive (particularly when concerns are raised about abuse, harm or neglect) to look at the risks to people who use care services.
  • Referring concerns to local councils and/or the police for further investigation.
  • Carrying out inspections, where we talk to people who use services to help us identify safeguarding concerns.
  • Publishing our findings on safeguarding in our inspection reports.
  • Taking action if we find that care services do not have suitable arrangements to keep people safe.
  • Working with partners such as the police, local councils, health agencies, other regulators and government departments.
  • Taking part in multi-agency children's safeguarding inspections to get a picture of children's and young people's experiences and how well they are being safeguarded.

Prevent strategy

We are not a specified authority under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. This means we have no statutory duty to respond or take action.

The specified authorities relevant to our work are:

  • NHS Trusts (including ambulance trusts)
  • NHS Foundation Trusts
  • NHS England (who hold a statutory responsibility)

Other health providers, including primary care and providers in the independent sector, are not specified and do not hold a statutory responsibility.

Prevent is 1 of the 4 elements of CONTEST, the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. The strategy aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. We do not wish to duplicate existing governance processes around Prevent.

Position statement: Prevent strategy

Report a safeguarding issue

You should contact the social care department at the appropriate local authority if you are concerned about a child or a vulnerable adult.

If you can't get through to your council, you can call us on 03000 616161.

You can also email us at

Find out more

Our roles and responsibilities for safeguarding children and adults

This document is under review.

We receive frequent questions about the competency levels for health care staff in relation to safeguarding children. The document below sets out our position.

Position statement: Safeguarding children training

This document is under review.

Other information for our inspectors

This document sets out information for our staff. We have published it to show we handle safeguarding issues. It shouldn't be taken as a checklist for providers. Safeguarding requires a personalised response to specific situations.

Inspector's handbook: Safeguarding (February 2018)

This document is under review.

See also

About joint inspections

The fundamental standards