Director vows ‘we will’ protect the vulnerable

VULNERABLE people with learning disabilities in Worcestershire will be protected from the abuse suffered by those in the care of a notorious private hospital says a council director.

People with learning disabilities suffered criminal abuse by staff at Winter-bourne View Hospital near Bristol, exposed by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Three people from Worcestershire were receiving care there at the time it was broadcast who were removed ‘rapidly’ from the hospital. Eddie Clarke, director of adult and community services at Worcestershire County Council, gave a presentation on the steps being taken to prevent a repeat of such abuse which led to the closure of the hospital and 11 criminal convictions.

Mr Clarke gave a presentation to the Worcestershire Health and Wellbeing Board at County Hall where he said the programme had demonstrated ‘persistent, institutional abuse of people with learning disabilities’ at the hospital.

He said: “What we should all remember is that Winterbourne View was not a one-off. There’s a history over the last 20 years of various inquests into the treatment of people with learning disabilities in NHS institutions. We all have a responsibility whether we’re a commissioner or a provider to ensure we prevent abuse where we can.”

In her written report Maria Hicks, lead joint commissioning manager, wrote: “Staff whose job it was to care for people instead routinely mistreated and abused them. Warning signs were not picked up or acted on adequately by health or local authorities, and concerns raised by a whistleblower went unheeded.”

Actions include developing local registers of people in NHS funded care from April 1 and the review of care of all people with learning disabilities or autism inpatient beds, scheduled to be completed by June 1.

From the review a personal care plan will be created for each individual.

The aim is also to bring back those ‘inappropriately placed in hospital’ to community care.

A final report is expected to be published in February which represents the conclusion of 18 months of work looking at ‘protocols’ for commissioners, those who fund health and social care.

Mr Clarke also referred to Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca Hard-wick who had a learning disability in October, 2007.

The stakeholder event will involve safe-guarding boards, the learning disabilities partnership board, the health overview and scrutiny committee and patient and user and carer forums. The event is timetabled, provisionally for March 8 at Sixways.

Margaret Flynn, who led the serious case review following reports of patient abuse at Winterbourne Private Hospital, has been invited to attend. She has yet to confirm she will attend.

Comments (2)

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10:35pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Stephen Brown says...

Protocols?

I seriously hope this promise will be delivered on.

However, as the council's mantra is commissioning and cheap, made worse in a time of cutbacks, the rhetoric will have a serious challenge to match the reality as underpressure staff cope with increasing workloads and fewer resources.

The care system is in crisis because of a chronic lack of funding and social attitudes towards the type of work- and all the committees in the world won't put that right. Investment, good training, decent staff terms and conditions, effective management, and placing a value on the care system and its workers is what is needed - and I don't see that happening anytime soon sadly.

Ask yourself this - would you like your relative looked after by someone untrained on minimum wage on zero hour contracts with managers of equally poor pay and training working for companies who are more concerned about the bottom line? Because that is exactly where many relatives are being placed every day of the week by the authorities in their pursuit to save costs.

Not all care companies are bad and many try to do their best, but it is an almighty uphill struggle and corners are always cut.
Protocols? I seriously hope this promise will be delivered on. However, as the council's mantra is commissioning and cheap, made worse in a time of cutbacks, the rhetoric will have a serious challenge to match the reality as underpressure staff cope with increasing workloads and fewer resources. The care system is in crisis because of a chronic lack of funding and social attitudes towards the type of work- and all the committees in the world won't put that right. Investment, good training, decent staff terms and conditions, effective management, and placing a value on the care system and its workers is what is needed - and I don't see that happening anytime soon sadly. Ask yourself this - would you like your relative looked after by someone untrained on minimum wage on zero hour contracts with managers of equally poor pay and training working for companies who are more concerned about the bottom line? Because that is exactly where many relatives are being placed every day of the week by the authorities in their pursuit to save costs. Not all care companies are bad and many try to do their best, but it is an almighty uphill struggle and corners are always cut. Stephen Brown
  • Score: 0

2:14am Fri 1 Feb 13

jb says...

Stephen Brown, thank you for putting your views which I totally agree with so eloquently. The current system which the county council totally relies upon is putting the vulnerable in society constantly at risk. I have been 'advised' by social workers to use the cheapest care providers for my son regardless of his needs, needless to say i refuse to do this. Worcestershire Coun Council have approved the implementation of the maximum expenditure policy which states that where an individuals care needs which allows them to stay in their own home exceeds the cost (which the council won't state) of a place in a council care home they will offer the person a place in a care home as the most cost effective solution. Where the county council are happy to fund a place for someone in a care home it appears their responsibility has ended there. Have lessons been learnt? I sincerely doubt it if the MEP has now become part of the county councils funding options.
Stephen Brown, thank you for putting your views which I totally agree with so eloquently. The current system which the county council totally relies upon is putting the vulnerable in society constantly at risk. I have been 'advised' by social workers to use the cheapest care providers for my son regardless of his needs, needless to say i refuse to do this. Worcestershire Coun Council have approved the implementation of the maximum expenditure policy which states that where an individuals care needs which allows them to stay in their own home exceeds the cost (which the council won't state) of a place in a council care home they will offer the person a place in a care home as the most cost effective solution. Where the county council are happy to fund a place for someone in a care home it appears their responsibility has ended there. Have lessons been learnt? I sincerely doubt it if the MEP has now become part of the county councils funding options. jb
  • Score: 0
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