A report into the abuse of 19 people with severe disabilities at a Doncaster day centre has criticised the delay in investigating the incidents and highlighted a “gap in regulation” of the facilities.
Last year two people were jailed for assaulting service users at the Solar Centre between 2005 and 2007. The serious case review, which was commissioned in July 2013 and published last week, found agencies had “lost sight” of the victims.
The review also highlighted the fact that day centres are not currently regulated by care inspectorate the Care Quality Commission. It recommended that Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board (DSAPB) should write to the Department of Health and the CQC highlighting this lack of oversight.
DSAPB apologised to families for the time taken for the review to be published. A spokeswoman for DSAPB said it had written to the Department of Health to raise the issue of day centre regulation but not yet had a response.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it had replied to a letter from DSAPB but she could not comment on the contents.
The Department of Health decided in 2009 to exclude day care from regulation on the basis that it was relatively low risk.The Solar Centre is run by Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.
A spokeswoman for the CQC said: “At present the regulations do not require day care services to be registered with the CQC, however all registered locations of Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust providing learning disabilities services have been inspected since the trust was registered under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 in June 2010.
“We last inspected the trust on 21 and 22 October 2013 and this included an inspection of trust headquarters location, in Doncaster. Although the Solar Centre falls outside our direct regulatory remit, we spoke to three members of staff who work in the centre as part of our overall assessment across the trust of staff understanding about training, induction, supervision and safeguarding of people who are made vulnerable.
“It is the Department of Health who have responsibility for setting the regulations and not within our power to make direct changes, however CQC would seek to work with the Department of Health if they make the decision to include day services within the scope of regulation.”
Roger Thompson, chair of the safeguarding board, said: “First of all and most importantly, I would like to sincerely apologise on behalf of the Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board to the victims and families in this case for the amount of time it has taken to reach this point and for this report to be concluded.
“There are lessons to be learned from this case and agencies should have worked better together at the time. It will be little comfort to those victims and families to hear that in Doncaster, things have changed for the better since this case and we do work more effectively together and have people at the heart of what we do especially in safeguarding. I do want to stress that. That said, the report does recognise that agencies could have done things more expediently and in a more coordinated way. The independent author has made recommendations and we will ensure they are actioned.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said poor care was “utterly unacceptable”. She said: “NHS staff recruited to work with vulnerable people are subject to appropriate checks, which have been made more robust since the time of this abuse. Checks are no substitute for on-going management and supervision of staff once in post. Where there are failings by an NHS service, we expect immediate action to be taken by the trust.”