CQC findings into Whorlton Hall abuse highlight need to speak up for society’s most vulnerable

You may remember an episode of the BBC’s Panorama programme last year that exposed inadequate and negligent care at the specialist learning disabilities unit at Whorlton Hall Hospital in County Durham.

Earlier today, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, released the findings of its investigation into Cygnet Health Care, the firm responsible for the running of Whorlton Hall. The firm also runs more than 100 other services for vulnerable adults and children across the country.

We’ve previously written on this blog about the negligent care that was found to be taking place at Whorlton Hall. The CQC’s report makes for disappointing reading.

We say this as, while the CQC notes that Cygnet Health Care’s senior leadership are responding to concerns and that most of its services are rated as ‘good’ with some rated as ‘outstanding’, more still needs to be done.

The CQC’s findings

It is particularly disappointing to read that important life support training has not been provided to all relevant staff. It is also disappointing that ‘fit and proper’ person checks have not been performed on the organisation’s directors and board members, particularly as the CQC also found that the executive team had not been held accountable for the inadequate and negligent services exposed by Panorama last year. The level of physical and verbal abuse suffered by the residents at Whorlton Hall was particularly upsetting to watch. Furthermore, those with mental health issues and learning disabilities, such as the residents of Whorlton Hall, can be particularly vulnerable to abuse, and may not always be able to speak up for themselves if they are receiving inadequate care or are being abused or neglected by the staff. Therefore, it is unacceptable that those overseeing Whorlton Hall’s staff have not faced any real consequences for failing to put a stop to such disgusting and abusive behaviour towards such vulnerable people.

The majority of UK care homes are rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the CQC and are staffed by hard-working professionals. We recognise this wholeheartedly. The vast majority of care home staff are doing vitally important work caring for vulnerable people and should be recognised as a credit to our society.

However, as the example of Whorlton Hall demonstrates, some care staff and the care home they work for let the side down. Thus, it is important to keep an eye out for any friends or relatives who are in a care home and raise any concerns you may have promptly.

What you can do

If you do have any concerns, speak to the staff at the care home in the first instance. Simply bringing their attention to any issues you have noticed may resolve the problem.

However, if things don’t improve, it is important to take legal advice before taking matters further.

How we can help

At The Medical Negligence Experts, we work with legal firms who specialise in care home cases and who have a proven track record in successfully claiming compensation for those who have been subjected to abusive or negligent care.

After your initial consultation with our advisors, during which we will talk to you in detail on a free no-obligation basis about the particular circumstances, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your claim. We and the legal firms we work with have a lot of experience in these cases and so, are well-placed to help get the maximum amount of compensation you, your friend or relative is entitled to.

If you do decide to proceed, your solicitor will collect any evidence and will contact any witnesses to help build the strongest possible case to support the claim. These witness statements, along with the other evidence gathered, will be used not only to prove entitlement to compensation but also to show the extent of the physical and emotional suffering that has taken place to ensure the amount of compensation received is fair.

If you have any concerns and would like some advice to see if you, your friend or relative may have a case, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our homepage or by calling 0161 413 8761.