By Dr Minh Alexander, NHS whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist, 20 June 2019
| Summary: Newbus Grange is another former Castlebeck-Danshell learning disability facility, which CQC inexplicably gave a pass despite staff convictions for abuse against patients and other matters.
The former deputy manager of Newbus became the manager of Whorlton Hall in 2017.
Following recent exposure of serious abuse against patients at Whorlton Hall by BBC Panorama, the police arrested ten members of staff.
A CQC cover up about Whorlton Hall has been exposed by Barry Stanley-Wilkinson, CQC whistleblower and former lead inspector.
According to Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees CCGs’ minutes of May 2019 there is also emerging serious Safeguarding concern about alleged physical abuse at ‘Outstanding’ Newbus Grange.
The CQC is a dangerous organisation which needs to be abolished. Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care has called for a properly independent inquiry into whether it is fit for purpose.
In 2011 the Winterbourne View scandal was unmasked by BBC Panorama and CQC was forced to review all the properties owned by Castlebeck, the company which ran Winterbourne View.
CQC was forced to concede in July 2011 that there were serious systemic issues across the whole chain, but it claimed that Newbus Grange was fine:
“Newbus Grange is compliant with essential standards. We have not requested any follow up action.”
This was despite a Newbus Grange worker being jailed for eight months in February 2010 for an assault on a highly vulnerable patient, whilst observed to be laughing:
Not long after CQC gave Newbus Grange the all clear, Castlebeck itself suspended some Newbus Grange staff over allegations of abuse and drug misuse.
In 2014 a Newbus Grange worker was convicted of theft from the patients:
And yet CQC still awarded Newbus Grange a rating of ‘Outstanding’.
The CQC considered that Newbus Grange was outstandingly well-led.
Newbus Grange’s deputy manager Chris Shield won an award:
By April 2017 he was promoted to manager of Whorlton Hall:
We know now that the CQC covered up a 2015 inspection report by Barry Stanley-Wilkinson on Whorlton Hall which detailed wide-ranging and serious care failures which effectively amounted to institutional abuse. For example, Barry Stanley-Wilkinson and colleagues considered that staff at Whorlton Hall were so lacking in therapeutic skills that this provoked needless incidents and a high level of physical restraint:
“Staff demonstrated little understanding of autism, communication needs or recognised best practice. This contributed to a limited understanding of individual needs. As a result, there were high levels of restraint and restrictive practice to manage difficult and complex behaviour.”
We also now know that the matter went as far up as Paul Lelliott the CQC Deputy Chief Inspector and CQC lead for mental health. Given the political ramifications of ex-Castlebeck facilities and all things whistleblower-related, I think it is almost certain that the matter went all the way up the CQC chain of command.
Barry Stanley-Wilkinson had an unhappy experience of whistleblowing to the CQC, as evident from 2016 internal correspondence.
Most seriously, published papers of Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees CCGs of 22 May 2019 report that there is a serious emerging Safeguarding concern about physical abuse at Newbus Grange:
This is not surprising. CQC’s sins were always going to find them. But such outcomes are beyond tragedy for the patients and families who are harmed and terrorised by CQC’s unforgivable, despicable derelictions of duty.
Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care has called for a properly independent inquiry into whether CQC is fit for purpose.