Probe Into Care Of Northumberland Disabled Students

Welfare authorities are investigating alleged trauma suffered by disabled students using the services provided by a care manager at the centre of a fraud probe.

An inquiry was launched by Northumberland Care Trust into the running of Care Management Services.

The Chronicle revealed former church elder Norvil McClurg, 55, had been charged with fraud following a Northumbria Police investigation.

Health watchdogs and a panel involved in safeguarding young vulnerable adults have also been looking at reports of stress caused to people using the services.

The criminal charge against registered care manager Mr McClurg relates to alleged abuse of his position of trust involving one Northumberland student.

However, the Chronicle understands several welfare issues are now being examined by the health authorities.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland Care Trust said: “I can confirm an investigation is ongoing. However, we are unable to comment further until the outcome of this case.”

Care Management Services was set up to give some independence for young disabled achievers, and Mr McClurg had access to funds.

He is charged with the misappropriation of more the £13,500 under the Fraud Act 2006.

The alleged offence came to light after a client’s family complained to the Northumberland Care Trust.

Officers from the Northumbria Police Economic Unit in Newcastle were alerted and carried out a six-month inquiry.

Mr McClurg, of Larchlea, Darras Hall, Ponteland, was charged on November 7. He has been bailed by Newcastle magistrates to re-appear in January.

Care Management Services was started by Mr McClurg’s son, Gordon, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It set out to provide advice, support and care services to young disabled people wanting to live independently.

Gordon is not involved in any aspect of the criminal investigation. No other member of the McClurg family has been questioned, arrested or charged.

Norvil McClurg had worked with disabled young people in the Newcastle area, but the criminal charge does not relate to any Tyneside students. A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “We take very seriously our safeguarding duties toward vulnerable people in Northumberland, and work vigorously and proactively with this in mind.

“We have been working to support families concerned however we can, but do need to wait for the outcome of this case before commenting further.”

Mr McClurg is accused of fraud offences between August 1 and December 31, 2007. He had been a leading organiser of social activities as acting secretary at Ponteland United Reformed Church until he resigned last year on unrelated matters.

Care Management Services received a zero rating when a spot check was carried out by the Commission for Social Care Inspection on February 20, 2007.

A recent follow-up check has yet to be published as Mr McClurg has 28 days to appeal against the findings.

At the time of the 2007 inspection, care was provided for nine people and the agency employed 20 care staff who are supported by a team of managers.

Those using the service are also helped to apply for financial support.

The quality rating for the firm’s service was given no stars. This means it was said the clients experienced poor-quality care.

An announced visit was made on March 20, 2008, and a further check was made on May 19.

It is understood concerns arising from the inspections are being addressed.

However, the report also lists what the CMS does well, including staff are given good information and “on the job” training to help them do their job.

Care Management Services was required to comply with detailed guidelines and care plans for everyone using the service.

According to the report a system, policy and procedures to deal with administering medications to people who cannot manage themselves must be put in place.

People using the service should be encouraged to make their own decisions on all aspects of their lives.