Social Care Reform Urgent as Winterbourne patients still suffer

  • New safeguarding alerts have been issued for 19 of the 51 former Winterbourne View patients after they have been moved to new care homes.

    This has caused experts and charities to campaign for social care reforms on how the NHS and councils commission social care, as fears are raised about the way vulnerable adults are treated.

    Although the care home itself was closed immediately, the company the ran Winterbourne View, is still running. When the serious case review team tried to probe into their financial affairs the investigating team said "the door was shut on us".

    It has now been revealed that more than half of the people transferred after the abuse remain in similar hospitals, and 19 have been subject to further safeguarding alerts over their well-being.

    Liz Kendall, shadow health minister, has raised the urgent question about whether the government has taken all the necessary steps to ensure the abused patients are receiving effective care.

    Norman Lamb, health minister, responded and said that there are still safety concerns for six of the former patients.

    He told the commons that the governments full response to the abuse will be published in November:

    Years and years of public money being spent on putting people into inappropriate settings, often putting them at risk of abuse - this is a national scandal and it has to end.

    What has been exposed by Panorama is utterly intolerable and has to come to an end.

    People often end up in these facilities due to crises which are preventable or could be managed if people are given the right support in their homes or in community settings.

    One former patient who suffered at Winterbourne View is now living outside of hospital; he is receiving all the support he needs and it costs £1,400 a week less than hospital care would cost.

    Margaret Flynn, who reviewed what went wrong at Winterbourne View, said that families could often care for vulnerable relatives at home, if they were just given a little extra support. It would provide a more comfortable and familiar environment, and would also save local authorities money.
    She said:

    If nothing else results from the scandal of Winterbourne View Hospital I very much hope that it is scrutiny of a practice that moves people around as though they are pawns. We can and should be doing something so much better.

    Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation have called on the government to commit to developing local services so people with a learning disability can live near their families in their local communities.

    Mark Goldring, the chief executive of Mencap, said:

    What allowed Winterbourne View and places like it to flourish was that those places were effectively being used... as a dumping ground by public bodies who had not planned ahead.

    Simone Blake was abused at Winterbourne view, then aged 18. She faced some of the most disturbing abuse at Winterbourne View, including being drenched in water and left shivering and shaking on the freezing ground outside.

    In June of this year her parents received a letter from Ridgeway Partnership, the health trust that runs Postern House where she had been moved to following the abuse, telling them she was the subject of a safeguarding alert and that four members of staff had been suspended. This has disturbed her and her family again, which is on top of the trauma she has already suffered.

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