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EalingChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Emergency Duty Team


This document is the Children and Adults Services' Emergency Duty Team Operational Handbook. It contains information on the role of the Emergency Duty Team (EDT); the procedures for EDT staff and the arrangements between the EDT and day services in both Children's and Adults Divisions.


  1. Introduction
  2. Relationship with Day Services
  3. EDT Resources and Organisation
  4. EDT Service Procedures

1. Introduction

Statement of Purpose of the Emergency Duty Team (EDT)

The principal responsibility of the EDT is to respond to out of hours referrals where intervention from the local authority is required to safeguard a vulnerable child or adult, and where it would not be safe, appropriate or lawful to delay that intervention to the next working day.

The EDT may also deal with referrals, which are not assessed as emergencies but where delay before intervention by day staff could cause deterioration in the welfare or safety of the subject of the referral.

The EDT is not intended to provide the same level of service that is available during normal office hours. It does not have the resources to do so, either in terms of staff or access to information and support from partner agencies.

Service Objectives

The EDT will:

  1. Respond to out-of-hours referrals where it is judged that intervention is necessary to safeguard a vulnerable child or adult, and where is judged it would not be safe, appropriate or lawful to delay that intervention until the next working day;
  2. Deal with referrals, which are not assessed as emergencies but where delay before intervention by day staff would be likely to cause deterioration in the welfare or safety of the subject of the referral;
  3. Fulfil statutory requirements and all London Borough of Ealing (LBE) policies and procedures when responding to referrals;
  4. Deal with referrals in order of priority and with regard to the possible consequences of delay;
  5. Aim to ensure that the "best value" response is made to all referrals;
  6. Ensure that referring agencies and individuals are kept fully informed as to Children and Adults Services responses and advised where there is unavoidable delay in dealing with referrals;
  7. Act in compliance with statutory requirements and all London Borough of Ealing (LBE) policies and procedures in delivering a timely response to referrals made outside of office hours;
  8. Deploy internal Children and Adults Services resources and acquire resources from other service providers as necessary and appropriate to meet assessed service needs;
  9. Ensure that referring agencies and individuals are kept informed where there is unavoidable delay in dealing with referrals;
  10. Maintain sufficient knowledge of local authority and other services to be able to screen and re-direct referrals which are not appropriate for the EDT to respond to;
  11. Seek to foster good working relationships with all other out-of-hours agencies;
  12. Ensure that at all times there are effective working relationships with day services;
  13. Negotiate clear responsibility for cases involving other local authorities, ensuring that LBE responsibilities are always fully discharged, whether by the EDT or another authority;
  14. Provide a service, which positively reflects LBE policies on equality and diversity, ensuring that services take account of issues of ethnicity, race, culture, disability, religion, sexuality and gender;
  15. Ensure that all referrals made and work carried out is clearly and fully recorded in line with LBE requirements, and so as to enable day staff to progress work promptly and effectively;
  16. Ensure that, where appropriate, senior officers are informed of referrals;
  17. Represent Children and Adults Services positively to all other agencies and organisations, using delegated authority appropriately.

Service Standards

The EDT will meet the following service standards in line with guidance issued by the Regulatory Authority:

  1. Service users will receive a prompt and effective out of hours response, which is adequate to deal with the need referred and is sufficient to support service users until mainstream services can be provided, if necessary;
  2. The Children and Adults Departments will maintain a clearly written, up-to-date and comprehensive policy for securing emergency out of hours services;
  3. The Children and Adults Departments will work collaboratively with other agencies, and Departments, to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the provision of emergency out of hours services;
  4. Out of hours assessments will be sufficient to determine the nature and extent of the response, which will then be provided promptly;
  5. Emergency out of hour's services will be sensitive to issues of race, religion, language, culture, gender and disability;
  6. EDT staff will be appropriately recruited, trained, deployed and supervised;
  7. The Children and Adults Departments will provide an organisational structure and management support to ensure the delivery of effective emergency out of hours services.

2. Relationship with Day Services

Working Arrangements between EDT and Day Staff

The EDT Team Manager will have a particular responsibility for ensuring that there are good operational links between the EDT and day services.

Responsibility for Referrals

The EDT is only responsible for dealing with referrals, which are initially made outside office hours. Day staff should complete all work where the initial referral was made before 17.00hrs.

Where day staff consider that they are unable to complete a piece of work, the EDT may exceptionally take this on. However, it is essential for day staff to speak directly to the EDT officer on duty to negotiate this. Day staff must therefore leave a telephone number on which they can be contacted after 17.00hrs.

It is not acceptable for day staff to leave a message asking for the EDT to complete a piece of work. If the day staff cannot speak to the EDT worker then it must be assumed that the work will not be undertaken by the EDT.

It is part of the role of the EDT to help and support day staff who are working outside normal hours. Any colleague working after normal hours can contact the EDT for advice, information, resources or assistance.

Criteria for Referral to EDT

The EDT is principally responsible for providing an emergency service in situations where there is a real and immediate threat to life, safety, health or liberty. Additionally, the EDT will seek to provide a service where delay could cause deterioration in the welfare or safety of the subject of the referral.

It is therefore not appropriate to make referrals to the EDT for routine monitoring of service users or carers out of hours. The EDT cannot guarantee to be available for this purpose, which must be covered in general care planning for a case.

As outlined above, it will be unusual for day staff to make a referral for action, as the expectation is that day staff will normally complete work in which they are involved.

When day staff do need to make a referral, the worker should ring the EDT contact number, leaving a telephone number on which they are available after 17.00hrs and the EDT officer on duty will contact them as soon as possible after coming on duty.

"Alerts" for EDT from Day Staff

There will be occasions when day staff need to alert the EDT to referrals which may arise, giving background information and indicating a course of action which they would like the EDT to take. Contact details for an appropriate officer should normally be included. These "alerts" should be completed online and emailed to EDTALERTS@ealing.gov.uk. The EDT co-ordinator will check the EDTALERTS mailbox at the beginning of each shift. ("EDT Alerts and Information" form available on the Intranet)

Communication of EDT Referrals to Day Staff

At the end of each EDT duty period it is the responsibility of the EDT officer who has dealt with a referral to complete a Service Request Form and to forward this by email to the EDT Administrators by 08.00hrs the following working day. All referrals must be fully written up and forwarded to the EDT Administrators before offices open for business.

The EDT Administrators will then forward all EDT referrals to the appropriate locality team(s) through FWI or email, for day staff managers and senior care managers to follow up.

Where urgent follow-up is required of day staff, the EDT officer may in some circumstances would ring the appropriate duty team to confirm actions required.

The receiving office must confirm receipt of all EDT referrals, by email, fax, FWI or phone. (Usually Hounslow Teams).

Day staff should only contact the EDT Administrators regarding further information in exceptional circumstances. The Administrators have only the information available in the report and all EDT social workers have gone off duty by 09.00hrs.

3. EDT Resources and Organisation


The EDT consists of 1 Team manager, 9 (Full Time Equivalent) Social worker posts and two half-time (17.5hrs each) Administrators.

The Team Manager reports to the Director of Children's Services.


The EDT Team Manager is responsible for drawing up the rota, of working sessions for EDT staff.

The EDT service is operational between 17.00hrs and 09:00hrs Monday to Friday, and at weekends from Friday at 17.00hrs through to 09:00hrs on Monday. The service is extended to cover Bank Holidays and other public holidays.

Shifts are organised so that three social workers are on duty during the busiest periods. Currently there is one social worker on duty between the hours of 02.00hrs and 09.00hrs and two between 17.00hrs and 18.00hrs. All other times there are three social workers available.

The shift patterns for the EDT have been reviewed and take account of European Working Time Directives and interests of Health and Safety guidance.

Annual Leave

Annual leave must be agreed by the Team Manager, giving as much notice as possible. However, requests for leave at short notice will be accommodated wherever possible, subject to the exigencies of the service.


Where a social worker is unable to start or complete a shift because of illness, they must advise the Team Manager by 10.00hrs, who is responsible for arranging duty cover.

Working Arrangements

The EDT service will normally be provided by two/three social workers on duty together. They work together and with the switchboard workers to ensure that a quick and appropriate response is made to all referrals and that referrals are dealt with in order of priority.

Each peak-time eight hour shift is staffed by a Shift Coordinator and two duty social workers. The Coordinator is responsible for taking all calls from the switchboards, prioritising them and allocating to one of two duty social workers. In the event of both duty workers being unable to take further calls, the Coordinator will make contact with referrers to advise them of delay times and where possible, undertake lower priority work themselves.

The duty social workers will take responsibility for progressing allocated work, consulting the Coordinator or EDT manager when necessary. They will take decisions as to when it is appropriate to arrange for the client to be visited or whether the work can safely be dealt with by phone. All decisions involving expenditure of any resources will be discussed with and approved by the EDT Manager.

For the period covered by the EDT service, when it is scheduled that only one social worker will be on duty, there will be occasions (e.g. when that worker is out on a call) when referrals will be held by at the switchboard and the response time cannot be determined. In such circumstances the social worker will endeavour to keep the switchboard informed of their movements and availability.

It will be the aim of the EDT to speak to the person making a referral within thirty minutes of the referral being received from the switchboard by EDT staff. When this is not possible the EDT Coordinator will aim to ensure that the referrer is kept informed of the likely availability time of the EDT worker.

When it is decided that a worker will make a visit, they must inform the Coordinator or a colleague (or when this is not immediately possible, the switchboard should be informed) of the place of the visit and a brief nature of the referral. (In line with Lone Worker Policies).

At the start and finish of a working shift each EDT social worker will act to ensure continuity and good communications. At the start of the shift the Coordinator will communicate with the switchboard within a maximum of fifteen minutes of the commencement of the shift. They will also communicate with any colleague already on duty to ensure that they are aware of any referrals or information received. At the completion of a shift each EDT worker will ensure that reports on all referrals received are completed and forwarded as appropriate.

When one EDT shift is followed directly by another, the shift coordinator and social workers should normally contact each other as appropriate to hand over any work, which needs completion, and to advise of any referrals, which may occur or recur.

Management Cover

A rota of senior officers ensures that advice and assistance is available to EDT officers at all times. The EDT Team Manager is also normally available to the EDT officers on duty.

Supervision, Appraisals, Performance Management and Training

The EDT team Manager will be responsible for the individual supervision, appraisals and performance management of EDT officers in line with LBE standard procedures, requirements and expectations. Training and development plans for each officer will be agreed through these processes, always ensuring as a priority that staff are adequately equipped, qualified and supported to carry out emergency duties across all service user groups

The EDT team manager would monitor/review quality of referrals to locality teams and regularly meet with day team managers to provide feed back and share necessary information.

Team Meetings

The EDT Team Manager will be responsible for ensuring that Team Meetings are arranged at least once a month, during normal office hours. EDT officers are required to attend all Team Meetings.

Quality Assurance

The EDT Team Manager will be responsible for developing and implementing a range of measures which ensure that the quality of the service provided by the EDT is of a high standard, and is routinely monitored. These measures will include the routine collection and analysis of agreed management information, regular audits of individual cases, and questionnaires for day staff and partner agencies about their satisfaction with the EDT service.

The EDT will aim to achieve the targets detailed below:

Service Activity Target

Initial response to referral within 30 minutes. 90%

Referrals to be emailed or faxed to Administrators before 09:00hrs. 95%

EDT Coordinator to contact switchboard within 15 minutes of shift commencing. 95%

Review of Handbook

This document will be reviewed annually by the EDT Team Manager.

4. EDT Service Procedures

Use of EDT Service Procedures

The EDT will be responsible for all referrals made to Children and Adults Services outside of office hours. EDT staff will follow standard departmental procedures and guidance in determining their response to those referrals.