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Winterbourne View

Volume 552: debated on Monday 29 October 2012

I wish to update the House about ongoing activity in relation to Winterbourne View private hospital.

The House will wish to be aware of two developments relating to Winterbourne View since the last written ministerial statement, issued on 25 June 2012, Official Report, column 2WS. First, the South Gloucestershire safeguarding adults board serious case review into Winterbourne View hospital was published on 7 August 2012 and can be found at:

Secondly, the House will wish to be aware that 11 former members of staff at Winterbourne View who were convicted of offences under the Mental Health Act 1983 and Mental Capacity Act 2005 received sentences on Friday 26 October. Six have been jailed, and five others given suspended sentences. I hope that these sentences will send a clear message that such criminal behaviour will not be tolerated and that there will be real consequences for the perpetrators.

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 front-line workers, to regulators, service commissioners, managers and board members, that they have a responsibility in preventing abuse of vulnerable people.

The abuse of patients at Winterbourne View hospital was horrifying. This was criminal behaviour—unacceptable in any part of our society, but particularly distressing given that these were people in vulnerable situations.

The BBC “Panorama” programme to be broadcast tonight continues to highlight inappropriate and poor quality care. There is no excuse for this.

The Department of Health review, set up by the former Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), has found clear evidence that there are far too many people in specialist in-patient learning disability services (including assessment and treatment units) and many are staying there for too long. This must not carry on and must come to an end. People often end up in these facilities due to crisis which are preventable or could be managed if people are given the right support in their homes or in community settings.

Best practice and Department of Health guidance on this matter are clear—people with learning disabilities or autism and behaviour which challenges should benefit from local personalised services and should be supported to live in the community wherever possible. Only in very limited cases should in-patient services be used. This means that:

no one should be sent unnecessarily into in-patient services for assessment and treatment;

for the small number of people for whom in-patient services may be needed for a short period, the focus must be on providing good-quality care which is safe, caring and open to the community; and

people should move on from these services quickly—planning starts from day one to enable people to move on as quickly as possible to more appropriate care.

The key priorities are to address unacceptable failures of commissioning and to improve the capacity and capability of commissioning across health and care for people with behaviour which challenges with the aim of driving up the quality of care they receive, improving their lives and significantly reducing the number of people using inpatient services. This is best done through effective joint commissioning across health and social care and proper local planning.

I will publish the final report of the Winterbourne View review shortly. Alongside that final report, I will publish an agreement or concordat setting out the responsibilities of Government, commissioners, providers, professional bodies and regulators and the timetabled actions that each body commits to deliver.

We will continue to work with voluntary organisations, people with learning disabilities and their families so that they can hold health and social care bodies to account in making sure we deliver real change.

I will continue to update the House on this issue.