Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald has made has made a scathing attack on the Department of Health’s commitment to the issue ahead of the launch today of a long-awaited review of the No Secrets guidance.
FitzGerald said he feared for the success of the DH’s review of No Secrets – the main piece of guidance on adult protection in England – due to the department’s current lack of engagement with the subject.
He said the DH had failed to follow-up issues raised in last year’s prevalence study of elder abuse, such as abuse by carers, while its engagement with Action on Elder Abuse was currently “10%” of what it was at this time last year.
Lewis absolved from criticism
FitzGerald absolved care services minister Ivan Lewis from criticism, adding: “We’ve seen an increase in statements, opinions, views and commitments by the minister. We have seen a decrease in activity from the Department of Health itself.”
Speaking to Community Care just days before the launch of the No Secrets review, FitzGerald, one of the key stakeholders in the field, said: “They are yet to write down the scope or the parameters. It seems to be coming out with a bit of a whimper.”
He claimed that the DH had committed just one part-time civil servant and a part-time secondee to the review, while adult safeguarding was hampered by having no lead official within the department.
Liam Byrne’s 2006 commitments unimplemented
FitzGerald said commitments made by former care services minister Liam Byrne in March 2006 to establish a performance indicator for adult protection and a data collection system for adult abuse allegations, were yet to come to fruition. Byrne also promised to ask DH officials to consider the case for putting adult protection on a statutory footing – akin to child protection – a pledge merely repeated by Lewis last year.
FitzGerald also said he still detected a mentality within the DH that saw adult protection as a social care, rather than a multi-agency, responsibility, and pointed out that in several areas the NHS, and in some cases the police, were not engaged in local adult protection arrangements.
However, a DH spokesperson said: “Both Ivan Lewis and the Department of Health are fully committed to working towards the goal of more effective safeguarding for adults. The department has been working, and will continue to work with stakeholders on this important issue. The department is very pleased with the high level of interest in the review and looks forward to working with all interested stakeholders.”