Feasibility and acceptability of the ‘Never Events’ method in the context of multi-agency child protection: findings from an exploratory study

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This report outlines an exploratory study that investigated whether the ‘Never Events’ system – first used in healthcare contexts to identify and investigate (preventable) incidents that cause serious harm or death as a result of human error – could be adapted in the context of UK multi-agency child protection. Using a sequential design, two online surveys were carried out that explored practitioners’ (n=46) views about the feasibility of adopting the Never Events model and what, if any, incidents or events could be investigated plausibly using such a model. Practitioners were drawn from a purposive sample. An inter-disciplinary panel of senior practitioners (drawn from nursing, public health, social work and child mental health services) discussed the surveys’ findings and the list of proposed child protection Never Events. The findings indicate that the complex, judgement-based nature of child protection contributes to difficulties creating shared understandings about what constitutes harm and the extent to which multi-agency systems can share decision-making and responsibility for the way they identify and support families. Thinking through and discussing the relative strengths and limitations of the Never Events model may nevertheless be a valuable exercise in interprofessional training and local service design

Bibliographic note

Not yet published in issue as of 13/04/2021


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Mar 2021