Director vows ‘we will’ protect the vulnerable

First published in News

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.

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