THERE were thousands of safeguarding concerns raised about vulnerable adults in Dudley last year, new figures show.

Age UK said a shortage in good quality care could have "miserable consequences" for older and disabled people, if it is not addressed by Government.

NHS figures show 6,435 concerns of suspected abuse were made about adults with care and support needs in Dudley in the year to March – an increase from 6,155 the year before.

Across England, there were nearly 588,000 safeguarding concerns raised – a nine per cent increase on the year before.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director, said: "At a time when our social care services are under such acute pressure it is not surprising that the numbers of reported incidents of abuse against older people are on the rise, and that the neglect of those living in their own homes form the largest category.

She added older people often wait months for a social care assessment, while home care agencies are stretched in finding staff to provide the support their clients need.

"These circumstances are a recipe for older people not to receive all or sometimes any of the care and support they require," she said.

"We know from our own contacts with older people and their families that this leaves some living in intolerable situations, with risks to their health as well as their wellbeing."

Ms Abrahams added the figures are a reminder of why the Government must address the "shortfall of good quality social care" in England, and of the "miserable consequences" for older and disabled people if it is not addressed.

If councils believe a vulnerable adult is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out a Section 42 enquiry to determine whether action should be taken. The very elderly – those aged 85 and over – are most likely to be the subject.

The data shows there were 420 Section 42 enquiries concluded in Dudley last year.

The council found that the highest proportion of allegations in the area were linked to self-neglect (30 per cent), while the highest number of incidents took place in the alleged victim's own home (66 per cent).

Nationally, most incidents were also likely to happen at home while allegations of neglect were at the centre of most investigations.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Abuse of any kind – especially against vulnerable people in care – is abhorrent and we’re taking measures to protect people including through comprehensive inspections.

"Across the country, the police, councils and the NHS are working together to help protect vulnerable adults from abuse or exploitation."

Councillor Matt Rogers, Dudley Council''s cabinet member for adult social care, said of the figures: “There has been an increase in safeguarding referrals this financial year.

"The council has improved reporting facilities to make it easier for the public to raise concerns online on the new portal the overall number of cases that once triaged to full safeguarding enquiry has remained consistent.

"The adult Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub does not hold any vacant posts and is fully recruited to.

"The work of the wider safeguarding partnership will be reported to the next select committee in October including the annual safeguarding report.

"If anyone has concerns about potential abuse on an adult in Dudley borough please either use the portal or contact the access team on 0300 555 0055.”

If an older person is in immediate danger, people should call 999.

People can also call Hourglass on 0808 808 8141, a charity dedicated to ending the abuse of older people or Age UK's advice line on 0800 1696565 to seek advice about concerns.