Learning disability hospital inspections soar

Inspections of independent learning disability healthcare services have rocketed since the exposure of alleged abuse at Winterbourne View hospital (pictured) at the end of May.

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Inspections of independent learning disability healthcare services have rocketed since the exposure of alleged abuse at Winterbourne View hospital at the end of May.

The Care Quality Commission carried out 25 reviews of compliance of these facilities in England from June to August, more than three times the eight carried out from March to May. In the first quarter, three were made. All such reviews include site inspections.

Nine of the 25 were services run by Winterbourne provider Castlebeck, whose facilities in England were reviewed after the scandal. However, when these are subtracted, inspection rates still doubled between the last two quarters, suggesting the CQC may be putting learning disability hospitals and other healthcare services under greater scrutiny in the wake of Winterbourne View.

In June, Community Care revealed that the CQC had carried out no inspections of independent learning disability healthcare services from October 2010 to January 2011.

This was a result of the regulator redeploying inspection resources into the re-registration of social care and independent healthcare services last year.

But sector leaders warned this could have led to poor care going unnoticed, given longstanding concerns over the ability of learning disability hospitals to provide personalised care.

The CQC will start a programme of inspections of 150 learning disability hospitals and other healthcare services for the client group, sparked by the Winterbourne View case, in October, after pilot inspections this month.

Reports from the inspections are likely to be released in batches from November.

All similar hospitals to Winterbourne View will be inspected.

The visits will be carried out by CQC inspectors, people with learning disabilities and expert practitioners.

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