As the eleven men and women found guilty of abusing vulnerable people at a care home await sentencing the Care Quality Commission says it has introduced changes to tighten up its inspection regime.
The eleven admitted charges of physical abuse, ill-treatment and neglect related to the abuse at Winterbourne View near Bristol which was uncovered during secret filming at a care home by the BBC Panorama programme. The hospital near Bristol which was run by private company Castlebeck was closed a month after the investigation and the residents transferred.
But Mark Goldring the chief executive of Mencap, the charity which campaigns for people with learning disabilities, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning that he is worried that larger institutionalised care home are a breeding ground for abuse.
Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation say they had received 260 reports from families concerning abuse and neglect in institutional care since the Panorama programme was broadcast last year.
Their joint report detailed a number of serious incidences reported by families, including physical assault, sexual abuse and the overuse of restraint.
Mr Goldring said: "We fear that unless the government commits to a strong action plan to close large institutions and develop appropriate local services for people with a learning disability, there is a very real risk that another Winterbourne View will come to light."
CQC chair Dame Jo Williams, said the prosecution sends out a “clear message” that care staff who abuse vulnerable people will be charged and brought before the courts.
She said that while the CQC was committed to protecting vulnerable people “we apologise to patients at Winterbourne View, and their families, for our failure do so quickly enough in this case”.
Following a thorough internal review, she said that changes to strengthen processes and to ensure that the CQC is better placed to prevent abuse have been introduced. These include:
- Making it easier for people to raise concerns with the CQC which has set up a specialist team to deal with whistleblowers and to ensure that it follows up all allegations. All inspectors have received additional training in this.
- In response to Winterbourne View, inspectors have made unannounced inspections of 150 services for people with learning disabilities and where concerns were found, action has already been taken.
- Recognising that hospitals like Winterbourne View are high risk institutions. Responding swiftly and appropriately whenever concerns are raised.
The CQC says it will have more to say following the publication of an independent serious case review of the abuse of patients at Winterbourne View.
Dame Jo concluded: “It is important to be clear that CQC alone cannot prevent abuse: it needs constant vigilance by all of us to report concerns and protect vulnerable people. We are grateful to Terry Bryan for his persistence in bringing this into the open.”