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Safeguarding vulnerable adults

New provisions are necessary in preventing mistreatment

  • By: Juliet Jacques
  • Published: 07 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.d7148
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2011;19:d7148

The recent issuing of the BMA toolkit for general practitioners (GPs) has highlighted growing concern around the safeguarding of “vulnerable” adults. With individual cases of mistreatment of older, disabled, or incapacitated people often going to British courts, and funding for their care being widely reduced, the need for medical professionals at all levels to understand safeguarding issues has never been greater.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 was introduced in response to the high profile murders of 10 year olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman by Ian Huntley, who had secured a job as their school caretaker despite previously having been accused of rape and having had sex with underage girls. That children, especially pre-teens, need “safeguarding” is well understood. However, the question of which adults require protection against avoidable harms such as abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and how to ensure that they get it, is more complicated.


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