Cornwall care financial victims get £1.5m compensation

Adults with learning difficulties at the centre of a care abuse case in Cornwall will receive nearly £1.5m in compensation from the NHS following a High Court settlement.

The action relates to the financial mistreatment of 118 adults in 24-hour supported housing in the county.

It is one strand of a multi-party action which also includes compensation claims for physical abuse at the former Budock Hospital, near Falmouth.

The physical abuse claim is continuing.

The financial settlement related to historic allegations that residents’ money was misappropriated to pay for services that Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust should have funded.

In some cases their money was also used to pay for capital projects such as building house extensions.

The £1.5m compensation will be shared among the 118 individuals who brought the action.
Unreserved apology

The families’ solicitor, Richard Scrase from Follett Stock, said: “This is a significant and welcome development.

“In the meantime, the parties’ lawyers continue to engage in a positive dialogue aimed at resolving approximately 150 claims involving allegations of physical abuse.”

The families are also being represented by Andrew Hannam of Foot Anstey.

The action was against Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust, which has since been superseded by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Its acting chief executive, Phillip Confue, said: “We very much regret the provision of services by our predecessor organisation, Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust and apologise unreservedly on their behalf.

“It is clear these people did not receive the level of protection that should have been afforded to them by our predecessor.

“We are committed to putting this right and financial compensation is part of that commitment.”
Fractured skull

He said a great deal had been done to improve the services provided for people with learning difficulties in Cornwall.

Mr Scrase said since 2008 the responsibility for commissioning services for adults with learning difficulties had rested with Cornwall Council.

It commissions independent providers, like the charity Mencap, to run its supported housing.

The legal action regarding physical abuse at Budock Hospital, a 17-bed treatment unit for adults with learning disabilities, is continuing and could result in a court case.

Concerns were first raised by a member of staff at the hospital in 2005.

A 2006 report by the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection found evidence of abuse including staff hitting, pushing and dragging patients.

There were also reports of staff withholding food, forcing patients to take cold showers and one person suffering multiple injuries, including a fractured skull.

Four staff were sacked and the hospital was closed in 2007.