Labour has slammed government “confusion” over its handling of the abuse scandal involving Winterbourne View hospital for people with learning disabilities.
Shadow care services minister Emily Thornberry accused opposite number Paul Burstow of “saying one thing and doing another” after an apparent U-turn within 24 hours.
The Department of Health backtracked today on what appeared to be a pledge made yesterday to review the role of the Care Quality Commision and councils, in their safeguarding capacity, in relation to the case.
Yesterday, Burstow said: “I have already ordered a thorough examination of the roles of both CQC and the local authorities in this case. I am determined to strengthen the system of safeguarding to protect vulnerable adults from abuse.”
But today the DH said that there would be no government-commissioned review of either councils or the CQC; rather, the DH and Burstow would study internal reviews by relevant agencies.
“There is confusion about the government’s response to what has happened at Winterbourne View,” said Thornberry. “On Wednesday Paul Burstow was forced to announce a thorough investigation of what had gone wrong, but a day later we find that not to be the case. He is saying one thing and doing another.”
“For people to have confidence in the care system in future nothing less than an independent review of the failures of regulation and management and the protection of vulnerable people is required. This is what was understood to be happening from the care services minister’s statement yesterday.”
Following Thornberry’s comments, a DH spokesperson said: “We have said from the outset that there must be a thorough investigation into Winterbourne View and that remains our position. Lessons must be learnt from this tragic case.
“Paul Burstow has ordered the Department of Health to thoroughly examine all the evidence from the investigations under way. The CQC is investigating what went wrong and why they didn’t take action sooner. In addition, an independently-chaired serious case review convened by South Gloucestershire’s Safeguarding Adults Board will look in detail at the specifics of this case and we will consider its findings carefully too. This will look at the actions of all the agencies including CQC.
“We need to get all the facts from all involved before deciding if any further action is needed.”
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