Thousands of safeguarding concerns were raised about vulnerable adults in Worcestershire last year.

NHS figures show 3,910 concerns of suspected abuse were made about adults with care and support needs in Worcestershire in the year to March – a fall from 4,005 the year before.

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

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council said: “In recent years, both nationally and locally, the overall number of adult safeguarding concerns reported has increased. 

"Last year's figures for adult safeguarding concerns reported in Worcestershire saw a small decrease.

"This may reflect work undertaken by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board to ensure that our partners understand when to report safeguarding concerns.

"We take all safeguarding concerns reported to us seriously and ensure that enquiries are undertaken when necessary to determine what action is required to support the person, with care and support needs, to feel safe and to understand and manage any risks."

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 said older people often wait months for a social care assessment, while home care agencies are stretched to find 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."

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 1,130 such enquiries concluded in Worcestershire last year. 

The council found that the highest proportion of allegations in the area were linked to neglect (30 per cent), while the highest number of incidents took place in the alleged victim's own home (37 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."

If an older person is in immediate danger, the police can be called on 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.

We have asked Worcestershire County Council for comment.