Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.

Gary Rycroft.

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Lancashire County Council have published a ‘Learning Review of Incidents of Significant Harm’ at Hillcroft Care Home Slyne, following the abuse of residents by certain members of staff in 2011.

In plain English this means that the County Council, who have a legal responsibility to safe guard vulnerable adults living in health and social care, have turned the spot light on themselves and to a limited extent others involved, to see what lessons there are for the future in terms of improving policies and procedures.

The report is very carefully worded and at least one relative, Michael Rowlinson, has expressed disappointment that it did not delve further into the way the Care Quality Commission (CQC) handled their own investigation.

It remains open to speculation that if the CQC had made different decisions the management at Hillcroft may not have got away without official reprimand.

Judge Byrne passing sentence at Preston Crown Court last year after three former care workers were found guilty and one had already pleaded guilty said “A lack of proper management allowed a culture to develop where conduct of this sort was allowed to carry on” and yet no one in the management structure has had to face any official sanction.

The Lancashire County Council report is equally critical of the management at Hillcroft stating: “They did not treat the abuse as criminal behaviour and inform the police and other agencies”.

The care workers who carried out the abuse at Hillcroft have been sentenced but others involved in the management team have not been prosecuted and for all we know may still be working in the care home industry.

The good news is the law is changing. The Care Act 2014 states that providers of health care and adult social care services who provide false or misleading information will face criminal sanctions. It will no longer be possible to sweep under the carpet abuse such as what happened at Hillcroft without facing up to two years in prison. A small comfort for the relatives of the victims of this local scandal.