Thousands of safeguarding concerns made over vulnerable adults in Wigan
Thousands of safeguarding concerns were made about vulnerable adults in Wigan last year.
Age UK said some older people across England were being let down by a care system that had failed to protect them.
NHS Digital figures show 4,690 concerns of abuse were made about adults with care and support needs in Wigan in the year to March, down from 6,025 in 2020-21.
However, Wigan Council disputes this and says there were 4,512 reports.
Across England, 541,535 abuse concerns were raised – an increase of nine per cent on the year before. However, one local authority was unable to submit data, so this figure is an estimate.
Age UK said the "distressing" figures show some people in care are not being treated with respect or protected from abuse and neglect.
Director Caroline Abrahams said: “Any abuse of older people is intolerable and there must be zero tolerance of any abuse whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty.
"These cases concern some of the most vulnerable members of our society, many of whom feel that they have no one to turn to for help.
"Care workers must adhere to the strict rules and procedures which are devised to help prevent problems such as abuse, poor management and neglect."
She added staff shortages might be leaving some settings ill-equipped to provide safe care, with record vacancy rates for manager roles in care homes particularly worrying.
If councils believe an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out a section 42 enquiry to determine whether they need to take action.
Wigan Council completed 2,435 such enquiries in 2021-22 – up from 2,115 in 2020-21 – according to the data. However, the council says it actually only did 736.
Sharon Barber, the council’s director for community services, said: “Protecting all people, including vulnerable adults, from abuse is incredibly important to us at Wigan Council and we are fully committed to supporting the rights of individuals to feel safe and be free from harm.
“Safeguarding is everybody’s business, and we work closely with our partners in health, the police and wider public sector to keep our residents safe.
“We are incredibly grateful for all concerns raised with us and are pleased that our communities have multiple clear routes to report their safeguarding concerns, via telephone, our website and the Care Quality Commission.
“Every concern we receive is investigated fully and, where appropriate, acted on upon under section 42 of the Care Act. If alternative support is required, concerns are referred on to partner agencies like our colleagues in mental health services, health and social care or in the voluntary sector to ensure a pro-active response which has an appropriate outcome for individuals.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said any abuse was abhorrent and inspections aim to ensure it is caught.
A spokesman added: "The Government has made sure that across the country, the police, councils and NHS are working together to help protect vulnerable adults from abuse or other types of exploitation.
“Local authorities have a duty under the Care Act to carry out safeguarding enquiries where concerns have been raised and, following this, to take appropriate action to ensure that people are as safe as possible.”