Commissions Launch Huge Nationwide Inquiry Into Abuses
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 5, 2006
FALMOUTH, ENGLAND--Two health and social service agencies have launched a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the treatment that people with intellectual disabilities, here known as "learning disabilities", receive at all residential and day services across England.
The Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection ordered the investigation after a report published Tuesday showed widespread "systematic" abuse of people with learning disabilities at institutional and community-based programs operated by the National Health Service in the county of Cornwall.
The probe found that over the five years ending last October, at least 200 people housed in a treatment center in Falmouth and in 46 homes around Cornwall were subjected to "staff hitting, pushing, shoving, dragging, kicking, secluding, belittling, mocking, and goading people who used the trust's services, withholding food, giving cold showers, over-zealous or premature use of restraint, poor attitude to people who used services, poor atmosphere, roughness, care not being provided, a lack of dignity and respect and no privacy."
Inspectors also found that medication to control behavior was over-prescribed, and that residents' money was exploited.
Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, and David Behan, chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, said that it made sense to look into treatment that people with intellectual disabilities around the country receive through all private and public services.
The recent inquiry was launched following complaints from the mental disability charity Mencap.
Mencap's David Congdon told the Telegraph: "The extent of abuse in Cornwall has been truly appalling. It is quite horrific that this has been allowed to continue for as long as it has."
NHS trust staff abused adults with learning disabilities" (The Guardian)
"'Worst abuse ever' of vulnerable patients" (The Telegraph)