‘Horrifying’ Care Prompts Apology

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has apologised to people with learning disabilities abused whilst in the care of Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust. She was responding to a report last week that raised serious concerns about treatment of people in some care homes. The apology came as one family at the centre of the allegations was told there would be a new inquiry into what happened to their son, Ryan Blakey. Ms Hewitt said the failings identified were “horrifying”.Several centres were inspected by the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

The report recommended Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust be put in special measures for “widespread institutional abuse” of patients at Budock Hospital. Speaking in the commons, Ms Hewitt began by apologising to patients on behalf of the NHS. She said: “I fully accept the recommendations and conclusions of their report and have already agreed to the application of special measures.

“The failings identified by the two commissions are horrifying.”

Ms Hewitt vowed that lessons from the report would be applied across the country. “People with learning disabilities are entitled to be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other member of the community.

“Abuse of these particularly vulnerable people is absolutely unacceptable.”

Five members of staff have been dismissed in the wake of the report and police are looking into the care of 40 victims whose cases were highlighted.

Ryan, who has severe learning disabilities, epilepsy and autism, was admitted to Budock Hospital twice to oversee changes to his medication in the late 1990s and 2002. His family later complained Ryan had injured his hand during his first stay, and that his comforters were taken away from him during his second visit.

They said Ryan’s mental state deteriorated, and he was found slapping himself, tearing at his fingernails and wearing dirty clothes while in hospital.

The new manager of Budock Hospital and care manager from adult social services from Cornwall County Council have been appointed to conduct the investigation, but Ryan’s family are pressing for an external review.

Their call is supported by the Healthcare Commission in its report.