Inquiry demanded into Essex care home abuse probe

CALLS have been made for a public inquiry into the handling of abuse claims at a Colchester care home.

Colchester Council wants the Care Quality Commission to investigate how Essex Safeguarding Adults Board responded to allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Greenways.

Councillors compared it to the Baby P child abuse case at Haringey Council and said it warranted a public inquiry.

They are angry the full report into what went wrong at the St Fillan Road care home, run by Excelcare, has been kept secret.

A summary was published in June, more than 18 months after the home was shut.

The overview and scrutiny committee wants to know if staff accused of abuse are working at other care homes in the borough and members says families deserve answers about what happened to their loved ones.

Julie Young, borough and county councillor, said: “I’m not reassured about how the Safeguarding Adults Board deals with those issues and we have no way of knowing what’s happened regarding the staff at that home or county council staff.

“I have received a number of letters from concerned families of individuals and nobody has told them a thing. I think that’s remiss.

“We are all here as public servants to serve the needs of the community and they don’t have the right to know what went on in their loved one’s home.

“The distinction between the way this was handled and the Baby P case was the fact that with Baby P there was a public inquiry.”

The summary report said Essex County Council acted after it received five allegations of abuse and a whistle-blowing letter, but failed to mention the abuse claims included alleged sexual assault.

It also suggests police were not inform-ed of the allegations. Nigel Offen, committee member, said: “One of the recommendations of the summary was to refer matters to the police.

“That makes me think something happened at Greenways that should have been referred to the police.

“We know from inquiries locally the police were not informed, which makes me think a police investigation probably should have taken place.

“As we stand at the moment, we have no idea what action was taken apart from a series of recommendations for the future.”

Borough councillors heard Essex County Council approved the summary and its recommendations without having seen the full report.

Mr Offen added: “How can you scrutinise an action plan without knowing what led to it?

“My main concerns are that nobody knows exactly what happened as the result of the closure of this home.”

The Care Quality Commission is the regulator of health and social care in England.

It took over from the Commission for Social Care Inspection in April 2009.

Colchester MP Bob Russell said: “The letter from the minister, particularly his handwritten postscript, indicates the Government has concerns about Greenways and the performance of the care company involved.

“The fact the minister has said he will personally be keeping an eye on what happens is a great assurance. What transpired was a disgrace. It must not be allowed to happen again.

“It is a great pity Essex County Council, through its political leadership, created the situation which allowed Greenways to go down the path to inadequate care for the residents and the eventual demolition of the building.”