Norman Lamb writes… Lessons from Winterbourne View

On Friday last week, eleven former members of staff at Winterbourne View private hospital were sentenced for the shocking neglect and abuse of their former patients. Six have been jailed, and five others given suspended sentences. I hope that these sentences will send a clear message that such criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and that there will be real consequences for the perpetrators. It was abuse of power of the worst sort.

The case should reinforce to everyone, from frontline workers, to regulators, service commissioners, managers and board members, that they have a shared responsibility in preventing abuse of people in highly vulnerable circumstances.

But this case also led to a wider review which revealed poor standards of care in many institutions. Further, the most shocking revelation is the fact that most of the 1500 people with learning disabilities who are in ‘assessment and treatment’ centres, often for years, should not be there. Large sums of public money are being spent on inappropriate care. And this has gone on for years.

Too often people are placed long distances away from home. If the care is poor, whoever gets to know? If abuse takes place, it may never come to light. A national scandal has been revealed. We have a responsibility to bring this 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. Best practice and Department of Health guidance on this matter are clear – people with learning disabilities or autism and behaviour which challenges should benefit from local personalised services and should be supported to live in the community wherever possible. Only in very limited cases should inpatient services be used.

This case has also revealed another concern. Regulation focuses on the individual hospital or care home: does it meet acceptable standards? But what about the accountability of the owners? If a company owns several hospitals or care homes the board has to take responsibility. If it wilfully neglects to properly supervise their staff then there must be consequences.

The final report of the Winterbourne View review will be published shortly, alongside an agreement setting out the responsibilities of government, commissioners, providers, professional bodies and regulators and the timetabled actions that each body commits to deliver.  I believe that protecting society’s most vulnerable individuals is a fundamental responsibility of any Government. That protection was proven sadly inadequate by what took place at Winterbourne View. I am determined that we do everything we can to prevent anything like it happening again in future.

* Norman Lamb MP is Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/31209 for Twitter and emails.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarManfarang 20th Sep - 3:15am
    The industrial decline of the west of Scotland is the reason for the Glasgow Yes vote. More devolution will only work if the problem of...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 20th Sep - 2:59am
    Sorry, I shouldn't make out that the devo on demand policy is going to lead to disaster, I'm sure it would work, I just don't...
  • User Avatarjenny 20th Sep - 1:44am
    "We need to work with our allies to continue to reform the EU, but even more importantly we need to do more to inform the...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 20th Sep - 1:42am
    David-1 If what has been reported about the age of YES voters is correct, you will not have to wait thirty years. The unravelling of...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 20th Sep - 1:28am
    Thanks John. At least with two steering wheels you know where power lies, but with the Lib Dem policy we are going to have secret...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 20th Sep - 1:07am
    I've sounded like a centraliser. I'm not, I just want a rational system that works. One area shouldn't be able to take more power unless...