Cornwall learning disabilities: Trust taken off special measures

The government lifted Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust out of “special measures” today, a status imposed in July 2006 after a scathing inspection report exposed abuse and poor standards in care for people with learning disabilities.

A Healthcare Commission progress report found the trust had put the “foundations” in place to ensure services met best practice.  But it warned that improvements had to be sustained and there was still considerable work to do to address the 45 recommendations in its action plan.

Substantial progress

Health secretary Alan Johnson made the decision to take the trust out of special measures on the advice of the commission after its second review of services found it had made “substantial progress” in addressing failures exposed in a joint investigation by the health inspectorate and the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

In its review, the Healthcare Commission advised the trust to take further action to improve care records, collaborative commissioning and safeguarding practices through good records management.  It also called for the trust to focus on ensuring that restrictive practices are not used and that all people with learning disabilities have fair access to services.

In response, Dame Jo Williams, chief executive of Mencap, said: “Whilst we welcome the progress that has been made so far…it is now vital that the Healthcare Commission continues to closely monitor progress to ensure that people with a learning disability in Cornwall get safe, modern services and a quality of life that they should have received in the first place.”

Leaked CSCI report on council

However, a leaked CSCI review, which analysed learning disabilities services provided and commissioned by Cornwall Council last December, found there were still areas of “weak practice” and only slow progress had been achieved to modernise services in line with the 2001 learning disability white paper Valuing People.

Anna Walker, chief executive of Healthcare Commission, said: “In Cornwall, we know there is still a lot of work to do.  These are challenging services which require dedication and commitment and it has taken a significant period of time for the trust and its health and social care partners to redesign the supported living services.”

Lezli Boswell, chief executive of Cornwall Partnership Trust said: “I’m really pleased to see the review team found considerable improvements in the quality of services. We now have a service which is based around individuals, providing improved accommodation and ensuring people with a learning disability are encouraged and assisted to have more independence and involvement in their care, along with their families and carers.”

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