The sentencing of 11 people found guilty of abuse at Winterbourne View last week was welcome, but it is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure a similar scandal does not happen again.
The sentences handed down by Judge Neil Ford QC sent out a message that such abuse will not be tolerated. Six people were given custodial sentences, with the longest being 2 years. The reminder received suspended sentences and orders to carry out unpaid work.
However, given the length of time over which abuse went on at Winterbourne View, you can’t help wondering if the sentences should have been longer.
But the scandal asks more fundamental questions of learning disability services. As I said when I was interviewed on LBC Radio on Saturday morning – and many others have said elsewhere – there remain concerns about the assessment and treatment centre model of care. The Care Quality Commission’s review of 145 learning disability residential services, undertaken in the wake of the scandal, did little to dispel these apprehensions : inspectors reported that there only 35 establishments where they had no concerns about the standard of care.
And, tonight’s Panorama documentary seems set to add to worries about the aftermath of Winterbourne View: it will report that 19 former patients have been issued with safeguarding alerts since they were moved to other care homes. There will also be further allegations of assault.
I will be writing a full blog on the findings of the Panorama documentary, and what it means for assessment and treatment centres, and wider learning disability services, later in the week.
Panorama: The Hospital that Stopped Caring will be broadcast tonight on BBC1 at 8.30pm
My appearance on James Max’s show on London’s LBC Radio can be heard here [note that sign up and paid subscription is required]: http://lbc.audioagain.com/index.php?sid=1&player=showchannel&channel_id=108