bill mumfordBill Mumford, head of the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Partnership (JIP), has resigned from his role with immediate effect following a second safeguarding incident at MacIntyre.

Mumford only took up his role at the Winterbourne View JIP in January, on an 18-month secondment from his role as chief executive of learning disability charity MacIntyre. In this time, the government-imposed target for moving all people with learning disabilities inappropriately housed in hospital-style units back into the community was missed.

In a personal statement on the MacIntyre website, Mumford said: “There has been another safeguarding incident at MacIntyre, unconnected with the previous one, and which is being investigated by the police. As before MacIntyre reacted immediately and we are co-operating fully with the investigation; we have been asked not to make any further comment.”

In this incident, three members of staff have been suspended from work, pending a police investigation, at MacIntyre’s specialist residential school at Wingrave, Buckinghamshire, following concerns raised by a whistleblower.

Previously, in May, MacIntyre closed its Welsh school and Children’s Home, Womaston, near Presteigne, following concerns over the conduct of some members of staff.

Mumford thanked all those involved in the Transforming Lives programme for their “fantastic support” over the past six months. “I deeply regret not being able to repay this with seeing the work of the programme through to a good conclusion,” he added. “I am mindful of the sad and tragic situations faced by many individuals and families – there is so much still to be done.

“Despite the well-documented challenges I believe there is increasing evidence of positive and widespread local engagement and activity – there are many hundreds of people doing good work in difficult circumstances; they are feeling more encouraged and confident. The momentum is building and person by person, area by area good things are being reported.  All of us in the sector must continue to work together so it won’t be allowed to stall.”

Co-sponsors of the programme the Department of Health, Local Government Association and NHS England will announce their plans for the next phase as soon as possible.

Concerns for future of programme

In response to Mumford’s resignation, in a joint statement Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, warned the Department of Health to move quickly to ensure the Winterbourne View JIP is not delayed further.

“We support Bill Mumford in his decision to step down as programme lead for the Joint Improvement Board following the latest safeguarding incident and investigation at a MacIntyre service,” they said. “It is crucial that this incident receives his full attention at this time. The priority must be to ensure that the individuals are safe and receiving appropriate care and support, and that their families are also supported. 

“The work the Joint Improvement Programme was established to do still remains worryingly incomplete, with the June deadline to support people with a learning disability to move back to their communities having long passed. It is fundamental that the resignation of Bill Mumford does not further delay a vital programme of work that is already well behind schedule. 

“It is therefore an absolute priority that leaders at the Department of Health, NHS England and the Local Government Association work together to meet the important commitment they gave to vulnerable individuals and their families back in 2012 by delivering a step change in transforming support for children and adults with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges.”

Steve Sollars, whose son Sam was in Winterbourne View for two years up until 2010, added: “Three years ago, we all watched on our televisions as a number of men and women with a learning disability were beaten, restrained and emotionally tormented at Winterbourne View. The complete lack of progress made since then to move vulnerable people out of places like Winterbourne View is making a complete mockery of the horrendous abuse my son and many others experienced – abuse that we know vulnerable people are still experiencing today.

“How many more people with a learning disability need to experience cruelty at the hands of those who are trusted to care for them before the Government will make this programme a priority? How many more care scandals need to hit the headlines? We, the families, want to see this important programme of work fast-tracked and we want to advise the Government every step of the way.”