‘Improve care or face prosecution’

The Commission for Social Care Inspection has warned an NHS Trust that it must dramatically improve standards in the care homes it runs for people with learning difficulties or face prosecution.

Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership Trust runs 19 care homes, nearly all of which fall well below the national minimum standards and do not meet the requirements of the Care Homes Regulations 2001.

Inspectors from CSCI discovered failings including inappropriate methods of control and restraint, poor management of residents’ aggression, lack of relevant training for staff and new members of staff being appointed without the relevant checks.

CSCI’s director of inspection, Mike Rourke, said: “Clearly this is unacceptable. We are talking about people with learning disabilities who deserve much better from those who are providing them with care.”

The trust said that until June 2006, 17 of the homes had been rated as “adequate” or “good” but ratings plummeted following changes in the inspection regime prompted by last summer’s report into abuse of people with learning difficulties in Cornwall.

It has drawn up an action plan to improve standards and announced that, in agreement with the primary care trusts that commission the services, they will be transferred to other providers. However, this could take up to two years to fully implement.

Rourke said: “We will continue to carry out frequent inspections and visits and closely monitor the trust’s progress on its action plan. We will also use our enforcement powers, which include prosecution, if it should be necessary.”

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