Care Home Owners Corporate Accountability

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

As a result of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal, the Government has announced they will hold care providers to account by introducing tougher regulation which may include new criminal legislation to ensure corporate accountability.

Care Services Minister Norman Lamb said the Winterbourne View case had revealed weaknesses in the care system’s ability to hold the leaders of care organisations to account. He said “when you look at Winterbourne View, the people who committed the abuse and the assaults were convicted, but what about the people making the money from that company? We need to have a situation where people who run care organisations, public or private sector or voluntary, know that they are accountable for the services they provide and there are consequences if they don’t. Next spring we will announce proposals to address the gap in the law on effective corporate accountability“.

The Government has revealed plans to move people with learning disabilities or autism out of long stay hospital if they do not need to be there. The cases of all patients in current placements will be reviewed by June next year with a view to placing anyone being treated “inappropriately” in hospital into community-based support by June 2014.

There are currently 3,400 people in NHS-funded learning disability inpatient beds of which around 1,200 are in assessment and treatment units. Norman Lamb said “I want this to be seen as a moment when there is a collective view that there needs to be a substantial culture change in society, that people with learning disabilities have the same rights as anybody else, and that we cannot any longer tolerate inappropriate care or treatment for these people and we have a collective obligation from top to bottom to change this and that there is a national imperative that we act decisively on that“.

The report published today: Transforming Care, a national response to Winterbourne View Hospital, said Care Quality Commission inspections of nearly 150 other hospitals and care homes had not found abuse and neglect like that at Winterbourne View. The report also noted that “many people who are in hospital who don’t need to be there and many stay there for far too long – sometimes for years“.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said the Winterbourne View scandal had “shone a spotlight on a care system that has failed the most vulnerable people with a learning disability. In today’s report, the Government shows that it has listened to families and campaigners by committing to a national programme of change“.

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