Inquiry at Sutton and Merton trust after staff sexual offence charges

Services for people with learning difficulties at Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust are being investigated by the Healthcare Commission after allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
Two employees of the south west London PCT have been charged with sexual offences and have been remanded in custody.

Peter John Clark, 52, was charged with the rape of a woman in November last year and is due to appear in court on 15 May.

Steven Maurice Wicks, 48, was charged with indecently assaulting a man between 1987 and 1990 and is due to appear in court this week.

Both men were dismissed by Sutton and Merton PCT after the allegations. The trust is also being investigated over standards of care at Osborne House in Hastings, East Sussex, part of the learning difficulties services provided by the trust.

Trust chief executive Caroline Taylor said Sutton and Merton had taken immediate action to ensure the welfare of people using learning difficulties services.

She added: “We are deeply concerned by the nature of these alleged incidents. We take the personal safety of the people we care for extremely seriously, which is why we have invited the Healthcare Commission to undertake a comprehensive investigation into our learning difficulties service and to advise us of any further action which we need to take.”

Nigel Ellis, the commission’s head of investigations, said: “People with learning difficulties are among the most vulnerable members of our society, which makes these allegations of physical and sexual abuse particularly concerning.

“We are undertaking this investigation to ensure the safety and care of people with learning difficulties. We will not hesitate to take swift action if we find cause for concern.”

The investigation will examine the quality of care and level of safety for people with learning difficulties and Sutton and Merton PCT’s compliance with legal requirements and national policy.

Last October, the commission announced a national audit of learning difficulties services after allegations of abuse at a treatment centre run by Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust.


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