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Abuse allegations company suspends four staff at second institution

Abuse allegations company suspends four staff at second institution
14th July 2011 developer

The company at the centre of allegations of abuse of disabled people at a private hospital has suspended four members of staff at another of its care facilities.

Allegations of abuse at Winterbourne View, a “hospital” for adults with learning difficulties run by the company Castlebeck, were aired in a BBC Panorama documentary in May.

But this week it emerged that four employees have been suspended over alleged “misconduct” at another Castlebeck institution on the edge of Bristol, Rose Villa, a home for nine adults with learning difficulties situated less than 10 miles from Winterbourne View.

Two staff members at Rose Villa were suspended by Castlebeck following a review of care standards at the home on 1 July by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The visit was part of CQC’s review of all Castlebeck’s learning difficulties services in England, launched in the wake of the Panorama programme. Castlebeck has also commissioned its own review of all its care facilities across England and Scotland by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

Another member of Rose Villa staff had already been suspended by Castlebeck over an unrelated incident last month, while a fourth member of staff was suspended this week, again over a separate incident.

CQC, which has been heavily criticised for its failure to take action over concerns raised by a whistleblower at Winterbourne View, has stressed that the Rose Villa allegations were less serious than those raised by the Panorama documentary.

The last regular CQC inspection of Rose Villa, in 2010, led to the home being given a “good”, or “two star”, rating.

A Castlebeck spokeswoman said: “In accordance with our policy we have notified and are working with all relevant authorities as enquiries are being conducted.”

Asked whether the latest allegations suggested wider problems with care standards across the company, she said: “We are currently in the midst of two wide-ranging reviews from the CQC and PWC and we wouldn’t prejudge the findings of either of those at this stage.”

Bristol City Council and NHS Bristol said in a joint statement that they were treating the latest allegations “with the utmost seriousness”.

A spokesman said: “Although we do not currently have any Bristol residents in the nine-bed unit, as part of our role as the lead safeguarding organisations, we have visited Rose Villa and reviewed the care and wellbeing of the residents as soon as we were made aware of the allegations concerning Winterbourne View.

“We have continued to visit the home regularly during the intervening period and have provided additional independent support to the home.”

But the city council was unable to say when the safeguarding team was first alerted to the concerns at Rose Villa, what action it took, or whether it was aware of any previous concerns about standards at the home before July this year.

Avon and Somerset police said it was assisting investigations by its “multi-agency partners”, which include Bristol City Council and NHS Bristol, but that there was no suspicion so far of any criminal offences having been committed by any of the four suspended Castlebeck employees.

The force is still investigating the Winterbourne View allegations, although Castlebeck has now closed the hospital.