Rethink Vow Over Care Complaints

The government is promising a fresh look at the need for an independent complaints process for vulnerable elderly people in care.

The BBC has found the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which regulates care homes, has decided it has no power to investigate individual complaints.

Minister for Care Services Ivan Lewis said he was concerned there was no outside body for families to contact.

He accepted families need to appeal if care homes fail their relatives.

A BBC File On 4 investigation has uncovered cases in which elderly residents, often with dementia have died through neglect, or been abused.

Families claimed early warning signs were missed or ignored.

One told the BBC when they tried to alert the CSCI, their complaints were handed back to the home instead of being looked at by the commission as an outside body.

But the commission told the BBC that after taking legal advice they did not believe they had the power to investigate individual cases.

Families say this has left them with nowhere to turn.

Mr Lewis said he will review the matter in the run up to the creation of a new super-regulator Ofcare, which is due to come into effect next year.

File on 4 is on Radio 4 at 2000 BST on Tuesday 18 September 2007.