Last week (12th Sept) the Health & Social Care Information Centre published their provisional report on the Abuse of Vulnerable Adults in England 2012/2013. (https://catalogue.ic.nhs.uk/publications/social-care/vulnerable-adults/abus-vunr-adul-eng-12-13-prov/abus-vuln-adul-eng-12-13-prov-rep.pdf)
The report reveals that of the 86,000 completed referrals to social services 43% were substantiated or partially substantiated.
That means around 37,000 cases of adult abuse occurred.
Yet the news reporting on this staggering statistic has been woefully small, there has been no obvious political indignation that such a large number of vulnerable people have suffered abuse and there has been no official comment from Westminster on the matter.
The statistics are similar to the previous year but that should not mean a lack of interest in protecting those who are vulnerable in society nor should it mean that the abuse of so many should become less news worthy. In fact there should be a national outcry that nothing has been done to reduce the number over the last year.
Another aspect of the released figures should also be raising eyebrows. Of the 86,000 completed referrals more than a quarter (27%) were inconclusive – neither substantiated nor unsubstantiated after investigation. And, while adult protection issues can be notoriously complex, this seems a high number yet there has been no call for an explanation of why this may be the case and what action is taken to protect those who may be at risk following an inconclusive investigation.
Do we really care so little about the plight of the most vulnerable in our society?
Obviously the Health & Social Care Information Centre can only publish the official statistics and given the high amount of abuse in them there must also be concern about the level of unreported abuse of vulnerable people. If there is so little news and Government interest in the numbers of those we know have been abused what is the likelihood of action being taken to help those who are vulnerable and abused yet unknown to the system.
There has always been a lack of interest in social care by the mainstream media and, for that matter, by central Government, yet it is people at their most vulnerable who are suffering from various levels of abuse who are left unprotected by Government and, importantly, by social pressure through the media.
This has to change.
How can we call ourselves a society when we ignore the needs of those who need our help the most and by allowing these levels of abuse to continue? How can the public know of the staggering numbers of people being abused if the media is not interested in them?
We need change but that change can only come if there is enough social pressure on politicians and that can only come from the media.
Do the media really care so little about the plight of the most vulnerable in our society?