Vulnerable adult protection scheme riddled with loopholes, claim critics

    Fears have been raised that the new list of people who are
    unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults is full of “loopholes”
    and that service users and providers remain ignorant of its
    introduction.

    The guidance on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (Pova) scheme
    will require care home providers to check whether prospective
    employees are not on a list of people banned from working in care
    homes and to pass onto the list details of staff who have left
    their employment for being unsuitable. It was launched this week
    and covers England and Wales.

    But the guidance says: “Those who work with vulnerable adults in
    the NHS, independent hospitals, clinics and other facilities, or
    through an independent medical agency, are excluded from the ambit
    of the Pova scheme for the time being”.

    Director of community care at the English Community Care
    Association Ann Mackay said: “We are particularly anxious that Pova
    is extended to staff in the NHS as an absolute priority.”

    Kathryn Stone, director of learning difficulty charity Voice UK,
    added: “The fact that health bodies are not included is a real
    concern. It has taken a long time to get the protection of adults
    on an equal footing to children.” She added that some people who
    were paid to provide health care for service users then went on to
    abuse them.

    Stone said there were concerns that service users had not been
    given information about Pova, despite an increasing government push
    to encourage greater use of direct payments.

    “Who is going to tell service users about Pova? In various ways we
    are encouraging service users to have greater independence and more
    choice, but if we are not telling them about Pova we could be
    putting them at risk,” she said.

    The issue of poor awareness of the scheme was also raised by
    Mackay, who said the guidance had only been made available close to
    the launch date and there could be small homes that were unaware of
    its existence and their new statutory responsibilities.

    – Pova guidance is available from www.doh.gov.uk

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