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700 Barred from Adult Care Work

BBC News


July 26, 2005

More than 700 people have been barred from working with vulnerable adults under a scheme set up a year ago, the Department of Health says. 

The Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme set up a register of workers accused of abusing or neglecting elderly, mentally ill or other adults. 

A total of 155 people are permanently banned from such work while 559 are barred while their cases are examined. 

Help the Aged said the statistics were a "wake-up call" to the government. 

The charity said although it welcomed moves to bar workers who had abused vulnerable people, it believed future legislation would not address the scale of the problem in the private sector. 

The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (Pova) scheme covers staff of care homes, registered domiciliary care agencies and adult placements. 

The Department of Health said 2,124 referrals had been made over the last year, at the rate of around 200 a month. 

It said cases involving alleged violence or sexual abuse were prioritised. 

'Welcome sign' 

Care services minister Liam Byrne said the large number of referrals to the scheme was a "clear and welcome sign that employers are taking their responsibility seriously". 

"Dignity for life is our ambition and part of this is ensuring that our older people, who have worked a lifetime and deserve a little peace of mind in their retirement, are not exposed to abusers," he added. 

He said the department was also looking at a report by King's College London, which had completed an audit of the first 100 referrals. 

Researchers found: 

Just over a third of referrals concerned male workers accused of physical abuse, despite forming only five to 10% of the workforce 

It found that police were involved in 40% of referrals 

The top three reasons for referral were neglect, physical or financial abuse 

81% of referrals came from residential services and of these 94% came from the independent sector. 
Among their conclusions, the researchers said there was a need for a wider examination of social care employment practice. 

'Sticking plaster' 

Help the Aged spokesman Adrian Thomas said that despite a "shocking 94% of referrals from residential services being from the independent or for-profit care sector", government proposals in the new Equality Bill would not protect older people in private care. 

He said a "loophole" in the proposed legislation meant only the statutory sector would be regulated by the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. 

"Abuse of older people's human rights exists across the entire social care sector. Current proposals are merely a sticking plaster that would allow many abusers to get off scot-free," he said. 

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