Minister Speaks Out On Cornwall Learning Disabilities Abuse

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said:
“I am appalled that the vulnerable people living in this facility in Cornwall have been abused by those who were supposed to protect and care for them. Abuse of vulnerable people in any setting is simply unacceptable. With the help of an external team we appointed with the SHA in October 2005, the local NHS and county council have already taken steps to ensure that the people involved are now safe.

“The regulators have referred 40 people to Cornwall County Council Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme, and these will be thoroughly investigated. These will be undertaken by the police where necessary. So far seven people have been disciplined, five of whom have been dismissed.

“It is unacceptable that the health and social services in Cornwall allowed a culture of abuse to develop and we expect them to implement and resource the recommendations in the regulators’ report immediately. We will extend the tenure of the external team and there will also be a root and branch external review of the workings of the trust board.

“Under the new Chief Executive who took up their post recently, I am confident they will continue to improve their procedures as set out in the Government’s policy to protect vulnerable adults.

“In 2001 our Valuing People white paper laid out the principles of rights, independence, choice and inclusion for people with learning disabilities. Had these been followed in Cornwall this abuse would never have happened. We will work closely with the Healthcare Commission on their audit of services to ensure people with learning disabilities are receiving the highest possible standard of care. It is the least they deserve.

“We will be considering fully the recommendations in the report and will respond in due course. We are also aware of the forthcoming DRC report into health inequalities of people with learning disabilities expected in the autumn and will respond to that also”.