The CQC have said convictions on all 11 of the perpetrators of abuse at Winterbourne View sends out a clear message “that care staff who abuse vulnerable people will be charged and brought before the courts”.
Dame Jo Williams, chair of the Care Quality Commission, said: “There is a responsibility on all of us to report such behaviour so that firm action can be taken to protect people and, when the evidence is there, to prosecute those responsible.
“We are committed to do all we can to protect vulnerable people – and we apologise to patients at Winterbourne View, and their families, for our failure do so quickly enough in this case.
“Following a thorough internal review, we have made changes to strengthen our processes and to ensure that we are better placed to prevent abuse.”
These measures include:
- Making it easier for people to raise concerns about abuse, including setting up a specialist team to deal with whistleblowers, and ensuring all allegations of abuse are followed up
- Ensuring all inspectors have received additional training in working with whistleblowers
- Inspecting all 150 services for people with learning disabilities, and taking action against failing services where necessary
- Ensuring they respond quickly to allegations of abuse when it is in a high-risk setting, such as hospitals like Winterbourne View.
In response to the Serious Case Review into Winterbourne View, dame Jo Williams admitted the CQC did not respond as it should have done in relation to the allegations of abuse, but said they are now aiming to ensure all whistleblowers are taken seriously when they come forward with their concerns:
“Before Winterbourne View we were receiving about 50 whistleblower contacts a month; now we get more than 500. This information is vitally important in helping us to identify poor care.
“This Serious Case Review sets out failings across a number of organisations at individual or organisational level that contributed to the events at Winterbourne View. As Margaret Flynn notes, we have been honest about the areas where the CQC fell short, and have made changes as a result. We carried out an urgent and thorough internal review to strengthen our processes and to ensure that we are better placed to play our part in protecting people in vulnerable care situations. Following this review, we have adopted 13 recommendations for improvements to systems and working practices.
“We also carried out a programme of unannounced inspections of 150 services for people with learning disabilities. While the findings showed up serious concerns about the nature of services for people with learning disabilities, there was no evidence that points to abuse on the scale which was uncovered at Winterbourne View.
“But a recurring theme running through all these reports is that the important job of preventing abuse is not just a matter for CQC; good care starts with providers and their staff, relies on effective commissioning and safeguarding procedures, and is informed by the views of people who use services and their families. We must all work better to ensure people are protected from abuse.”