Thursday, 2 June 2011

Winterbourne View - private 'care' a misnomer?

The Winterbourne View exposure demonstrates that the private sector MUST NOT be allowed to penetrate the NHS and indeed if the NHS is to be "reformed" those private sector habits that have already been introduced over the years must be subject to intense scrutiny & change.

After the shocking Panorama programme relating to abuse at Castlebeck's home the company made a comprehensive & welcome statement of contrition saying " As soon as senior Management were made aware of these allegations 12th May 2011 we etc etc". They went on to say " two managers have separately been suspended" and add that senior professional staff had no knowledge etc. WELL WHY ON EARTH DIDN'T THEY? Did anyone from Head Office in Darlington ever visit unannounced? Did any of the senior professional staff turn up unannounced? If they had they could hardly have missed what was going on. No good just blaming failures of the Regulator. When you run ANY business you should make it a priority to know what is going on, not just relying on reports. In my industrial career the production director would turn up at 3 in the morning and so forth & walk round the factory & see if the manager was asleep etc.

Do not get the idea that the failings at Winterbourne are unique. Extreme maybe but far from unique. I have qualified children who work in the sector. The norm is to employ the minimum number of qualified staff and use 'support staff' paid not a penny more than the minimum wage. In one home belonging to a major company in the sector the manager had no medical qualifications & her role was simply & exclusively to cut as many corners as possible to squeeze costs.
Complaints fell on deaf ears. It was so bad that my daughter & some colleagues got legal advice but, of course, were advised against doing anything. The imbalance of legal resources was too great. She doesn't work there any more. The Civil Law & Justice have no contact with each other but that's another story.

HgCapital invested in Castlebeck in 2002 valuing the enterprise at £50million [see website]. It identified potential to improve margins through: operational leverage and efficiency gains and improved occupancy management. No mention of patient care improvement!!

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