Vow for change after care scandal
Published 29/10/2012 | 11:32
The Government has promised to "deliver real change" in the provision of care for disabled people in the wake of the Winterbourne View scandal.
Norman Lamb, minister of state for care services, said the Department of Health was working with other agencies to provide "real improvements in the quality of care". Mr Lamb said he would be publishing his department's review into Winterbourne View shortly.
In a written ministerial statement, Mr Lamb also vowed to produce an agreement setting out the responsibilities of government, service commissioners, providers, professional bodies and regulators.
Mr Lamb's immediate predecessor, Paul Burstow, said the scandal at the private hospital in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, had shown the need for a new offence of "corporate wilful neglect" to prosecute care home-owners for allowing abuse to go on behind closed doors.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the long-stay units like Winterbourne View should be closed.
"The companies who take the money - if they fail, and in this case they more than failed, they abused people - they need to be corporately accountable as well as the staff who stood in the dock last week," he said. "We have corporate manslaughter on the statute books and I think there is now a case for corporate wilful neglect as well."
Last week six members of staff were jailed for between six months and two years for their roles in the abuse at the private hospital in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire. Five others were given suspended prison sentences by a judge at Bristol Crown Court, who condemned the "culture of ill-treatment" and said it had "corrupted and debased".
The BBC's Panorama exposed the scandal in June last year when it broadcast undercover journalist Joseph Casey's secret footage, recorded when he was employed at Winterbourne View as a care worker.
On Monday night, Panorama is showing a second programme on the private hospital and alleges that NHS safeguarding alerts have been issued for at least 19 of its 51 former patients since they were moved to other care homes.
Mr Lamb said in the written statement: "This terrible case has revealed the criminal and inhuman acts some care workers and nurses are capable of. I want this case to reinforce to everyone, from frontline workers to regulators, service commissioners, managers and board members, that they have a responsibility in preventing abuse of vulnerable people."