Comment: Cornwall abuse of adults

Care services minister Ivan Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said society needed to rethink its attitude towards abuse of vulnerable adults and treat the issue as seriously as it does child abuse.

There has been a spate of stories about ill-treatment of adults in the care system which suggest the problem is endemic. First there was the Cornwall abuse scandal and the ramifications of that case are likely to rumble on for some time. A key question there is why weren’t the police involved earlier when it must have been evident that crimes had been committed? Tying someone to a wheelchair for hours on end surely amounts to assault?

Then came the revelations about abuse on mental health wards with health trusts admitting they were not robust enough with their checks. Such laxness would not have been allowed to go on for so long in children’s services.

Finally, there are the allegations by the carers at the centre of the Bournewood case who claim that HL, a man with severe learning difficulties, was physically abused while in the care of the NHS.

We need to begin tackling institutional abuse with renewed vigour and perhaps a starting point is the police service. If only they took the issue more seriously then perhaps other people might start to follow their lead.

See Bournewood carers call for investigation
See HL learning difficulites case: Carers demand inquiry into Bournewood treatment
See Heng: Abuse of adults in institutions must stop

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