HSE National Safeguarding Office Report

HSE Press Release: 28 October 2021

Today, Thursday, 28th October 2021, the HSE published the 2020 National Safeguarding Office Report. This Report reviewed HSE safeguarding operations and data during an extraordinarily challenging year as well as offering commentary on emerging trends, challenges and opportunities. It also highlights the resilience and adaptability of safeguarding teams and staff in designated roles in continuing to respond to abuse and neglect concerns, despite the many challenges they faced during the several waves of Covid-19 during the pandemic in 2020.

The safety and protection of adults at risk of abuse is a key priority for the Government and the HSE. The current adult safeguarding policy, Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse - Policy and Procedures (HSE, 2014) and the programme of adult safeguarding services are all part of a range of measures to support the welfare and safety of adults who may be vulnerable and at risk of abuse.

2020 is the fifth year of the HSE publishing data on adult safeguarding activity. This data represents screenings undertaken by Designated Officers operating in HSE and HSE funded services, as well as direct community referrals to the HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams. The Report also gives an outline on training programmes including the introduction of an eLearning programme in September 2020 which saw over 27,000 completions of the training by year end.

Key findings from the 2020 report are:

  • Despite the pandemic and resultant societal restrictions, there were over 10,000 safeguarding concerns notified to the HSE in 2020 which is a 9% decline on the figure for 2019.
  • Between the years 2016-2020, cumulatively there have been in excess of 51,000 concerns notified to the Safeguarding Teams of the HSE.
  • The pattern of age profile of notifications is 66% for those under 65 years of age and 34% for persons aged over 65.
  • The total number of notifications for persons aged over 65 was 3,412 in 2020 compared to 3,337 in 2019.
  • For persons aged under 65 the most significant category of alleged abuse remains physical abuse followed by psychological abuse.
  • For persons aged over 65 the most significant categories of alleged abuse are psychological abuse, physical abuse and financial abuse.
  • Alleged financial abuse and neglect increase with age with the highest level of reporting in those over 80 years.

The HSE support the need for primary safeguarding legislation and welcomes the ongoing work to develop a national health sector safeguarding policy by the Department of Health as well as the examination by the Law Reform Commission into the form of a regulatory framework for adult safeguarding. An inaugural National Adult Safeguarding Day takes place on Friday November 19th which is supported by a wider range of stakeholders including the HSE and is co-ordinated by Safeguarding Ireland. This day aims to raise public awareness and highlight that we all have a role in protecting vulnerable adults who may be at risk of abuse.

According to Tim Hanly, General Manager of HSE National Safeguarding Office: “The publication of the National Safeguarding Office Report 2020 emphasises once again the important role of adult safeguarding. Particularly in the last year, at a time of such uncertainty for adults who may be vulnerable and at risk of abuse with the impact of a global pandemic.

“This Report highlights the requirement for primary safeguarding legislation and the need for greater strengthening of data sharing arrangements as well as the continued focus on the human rights of the adults at risk of abuse. Mindful of ongoing healthcare delivery reforms and stakeholder engagement, the HSE is committed to implementing a revised Adult Safeguarding Policy.”


Please see a link to the report here

Last updated on: 29 / 10 / 2021