It’s just too easy to escape the list

    On 26 July the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (Pova) list of
    people who are banned from working with vulnerable adults came into
    force, and on that date my organisation – Ealing Consortium – made
    its first referral. But I wonder how many abusers will slip through
    the net.

    People about to be appointed to a care position involving regular
    contact with vulnerable adults are now to be checked against the
    list. But only if they have applied to work in a care home or with
    a domiciliary care agency.

    There will be no such checks for NHS staff as it is claimed that
    this would create “disproportionate and unnecessary resource and
    administrative burdens”. Yet the scheme creates similar burdens for
    smaller employers, especially where there is a high turnover or
    regular use of temporary staff.

    Staff in the NHS and day centres will not be checked on
    appointment, and people known to have abused users of these
    services cannot be referred to the Pova list – so they can still
    move around the care sector. The Department of Health plays down
    these faults, instead it promotes good recruitment practice in
    taking up references and carrying out ID checks. If this always
    worked, we would not need the Pova list at all.

    It’s likely that most people referred to the Pova list will have
    been dismissed since 26 July because they harmed, or put at risk of
    harm, a service user in a care home or in domiciliary care.
    However, in making our 26 July referral, we used a provision that
    enables, but does not require, employers of care workers to refer
    people dismissed before that date.

    The referral went like clockwork. Within four days the person was
    provisionally listed. The listing will be confirmed or cancelled
    once the person’s comments have been considered – we expect it to
    be confirmed. But if at that time the person is working with
    vulnerable adults, their current employer will not be tracked down
    and told. And if the person goes to work in a day centre or the
    NHS, no one will know about their past. Imagine the tabloid
    headlines when a known and listed abuser does it again.

    Nigel Turner is chief executive of Ealing Consortium, a
    provider of supported housing services for people with learning
    difficulties across west London.

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