Watchdog has ‘serious concerns’ over Castlebeck care

A company that closed one of its private hospitals after horrifying allegations of abuse must make “root and branch improvements”, a social care watchdog has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigated Castlebeck after an undercover reporter secretly filmed vulnerable residents with learning disabilities being pinned down, slapped, doused in cold water and repeatedly taunted and teased.

Twelve people who worked at Winterbourne View near Bristol were arrested and are currently on police bail.

Four other employees were suspended from Castlebeck’s Rose Villa care home in Bristol amid claims of misconduct.

Today, the CQC said it had serious concerns about four other Castlebeck services and another seven did not not fully comply with essential standards of quality and safety.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “We need to be clear: we have not found problems on the same scale as were found at Winterbourne View.

“However – we do have serious concerns at four locations in particular.

“In these cases we are taking action, although for legal reasons we cannot go into detail at this time. We will report fully later.

“Our inspections have found a range of problems, many of which are found in a number of different services.

“This clearly suggests that there are problems that Castlebeck needs to address at a corporate level – the company needs to make root and branch improvements to its services and processes.

“Where necessary, we have demanded improvements.

“Where we have had immediate concerns about people’s safety we have taken action. In the case of Winterbourne View we took action which led to its closure.

“Although our reports set out what Castlebeck and individual services need to do, there is a lesson here for all professionals who have contact with these services and those who commission care from them.

“You have a clear responsibility to stay alert for the signs of problems; take action if you can, and tell us if you have doubts about the safety and quality of care.”

Castlebeck has 23 sites – 11 independent mental health hospitals and 12 adult social care centres.

The four raising serious concerns are: Arden Vale in Solihull, Cedar Vale in Nottingham, Croxton Lodge in Melton Mowbray, and Rose Villa.

The seven non-compliant sites are: Acrefield House in Wirral, Briar Court Nursing Home in Hartlepool, Chesterholme in Hexham, The East Midlands Centre for Neurobehavioural Rehabilitation in Melton Mowbray, Hollyhurst in Darlington, Oaklands in Hexham and Willow House in Edgbaston.

The regulator, which has told Castlebeck to show how it will improve, identified company-wide themes including: lack of staff training, inadequate staffing levels, poor care planning, failure to notify relevant authorities of safeguarding incidents and failure to involve people in decisions about their own care.

The scandal surrounding Winterbourne View unfolded because of a BBC Panorama investigation and whistleblower Terry Bryan, a senior nurse.

Mrs Bower applauded them saying: “I would like to put on record thanks to the BBC’s Panorama programme and Terry Bryan, whose concerns about Winterbourne View led to the documentary.

“Their exposure of abuse at Winterbourne View has led to this close examination of services for people with learning disabilities.”

The CQC is following up its Castlebeck inquiry with a major review of learning disability services.

“We will carry out unannounced inspections of 150 of these services,” said Mrs Bower.