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1,800 cases of abuse of the elderly and disabled across the county last year
More than 1,800 elderly and disabled people in Hampshire were at the centre of abuse claims in the last year, the Daily Echo can reveal today.
Among the disturbing cases investigated by the county council were accusations of vulnerable adults being slapped, locked in bedrooms or left to go hungry.
One fifth of alleged abusers were care home staff.
The figures were up five per cent overall on the previous year – with reported abuse of people with learning difficulties up by 16 per cent, according to Hampshire Adults Safeguarding Board.
The damning statistics also reveal: One in three reported incidents involved physical harm; 42 per cent of incidents allegedly happened in care homes; Only five per cent resulted in police action; Less than five county council staff were disciplined.
Last night a leading county councillor called the figures “shocking” and demanded to know why only Daily Echo pressure resulted in key information being provided which had been omitted from the Board’s report.
This included details that 35 per cent of the alleged abusers were relatives or partners, while 21 per cent were residential staff, 18 per cent other vulnerable adults and five per cent neighbours or friends.
Also missing from the report was the fact that “less than five” county council staff were disciplined or referred to watchdogs such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council to investigate if they should be struck-off.
Councillor Alan Dowden, Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman for adult social care said he was “shocked”, adding: “It is very disturbing. In my opinion, even one incident is too many. It should not happen. “The elderly and people with learning disabilities deserve to be treated with dignity.”
On the missing data, Cllr Dowden added: “What have they got to hide? “The department (adult services) should not be attempting to sweep things under the carpet. This is too important an issue.
“Councillors on the Safe and Healthy People Select Committee should have seen all the information. I am upset we didn’t.”
Figures in the report show there were 1,065 elderly people reported to have been abused and a further 529 with a learning disability, such as Downs’ syndrome or autism, 177 with a physical disability and 89 with a mental health problem.
Forty-two per cent of all incidents were in care homes, while three out of ten cases of abuse was alleged to have happened in the residents’ own homes.
Meanwhile, hospitals and health centres were the location for around 10 per cent of cases.
About a third of cases involved physical abuse which can include hitting, pushing or locking dementia patients in a bedroom to stop them from wandering.
A similar proportion of incidents concerned neglect. This can include vulnerable adults being denied food, drink or medicine, or left in soiled clothing for hours.
A further 16 per cent were suspected to have had some financial abuse such as stealing or pressure to alter wills.
However no information was provided on NHS or private care home staff facing disciplinary action or total prosecutions and formal cautions, although the council is responsible for this data.
County chiefs have linked the rise in reported cases to increased training of staff to report concerns and increased public awareness. Figures have gone up year on year with the number of vulnerable adults reported to have been abused or neglected increasing from 1,319 in 2009-10 to 1,795 in 2010-11 to 1,877 in 2011-12. Revelations about the Winterbourne View in Bristol, exposed by a BBC Panorama documentary last year, also triggered new allegations across the country.
Jason Carlisle, Mencap’s regional campaigns officer, said: “The abuse scandal at Winterbourne View Hospital has shown how crucial it is that local areas have procedures in place to safeguard adults at risk of abuse and neglect, and that safeguarding is taken seriously by all agencies concerned.”
Councillor Felicity Hindson, who is responsible for adult social services at the county council, said: “We want people to report their concerns to us so they can be fully investigated and, in cases where evidence of abuse is found, vulnerable adults are given the protection they need.”
The council was asked but declined to say why data was missing from Hampshire Adults Safeguarding accountability statement. Gill Duncan, director of adult services at the county council, is chairman of the safeguarding board. Next year an independent chairman is to be appointed.
The figures don’t include Southampton or Portsmouth, which have their own safeguarding boards.
To report concerns about abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, call 0845 603 5630.