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National probe of learning disability hospitals – haven’t we been here before?

News that there will be a programme of unannounced inspections of learning disability hospitals by the Care Quality Commission in the wake of the Winterbourne View scandal unveiled by Panorama is undoubtedly a good thing.

Confidence in this type of provision has been shaken and the public, commissioners, families and service users need to know that the many thousands of pounds spent every week on placements in these settings is being put to good use.

However, haven’t we been hear before? Five years ago, shocking abuse of people with learning disabilities was uncovered by the CQC’s predecessors, the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection, in NHS services in Cornwall.

The result, in 2007, was an audit of NHS and independent sector provision for people with learning disabilities, which uncovered poor standards of care nationally.

A follow-up audit, whose results were published last January, found that there was still room for significant improvement and that advocacy provision had declined since the first audit.

A third audit, I suspect, is likely to throw up many of the same issues, begging the question of how much has changed in the light of the other two (and the very high profile of cases such as Cornwall and the abuse uncovered subsequently in Sutton and Merton).

We shall see.

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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