Burstow considering independent probe into Castlebeck abuse

Care services minister Paul Burstow has refused to rule out an independent inquiry into the Castlebeck abuse case, following Labour accusations of "confusion" from government on the issue.

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Care services minister Paul Burstow has refused to rule out an independent inquiry into the Castlebeck abuse case, following Labour accusations of “confusion” from government on the issue.

Last Wednesday, Burstow said he had “ordered a thorough examination” of the roles of the Care Quality Commission and South Gloucestershire Council in the case – both organisations are accused of failing to act on the disclosure of abuse by a whistleblower at Winterbourne View hospital.

However, when this was taken to mean as an independent inquiry, the Department of Health issued a clarifying statement the following day, which read: “Paul Burstow has ordered the Department of Health to thoroughly examine all the evidence from the investigations under way.” This is a reference to an internal review of CQC actions in the case and the serious case review commissioned by South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board.

But, speaking in Parliament yesterday, Burstow said: “Now, for the avoidance of doubt, we have not ruled out an independent inquiry. A criminal investigation is under way, and it is important that we do nothing that could prejudice it. Once in possession of the full facts, and once the police investigation has concluded, we will be in a position to decide what further action is required.”

He also said that Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring would “bring an independent voice” to the government’s analysis of the SCR and CQC reviews, to inform its decision on whether to conduct an independent inquiry.

His intervention followed further pressure from Labour on the issue, with party leader Ed Miliband having called for an independent investigation into the case yesterday.

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