Ten years on from Winterbourne, VODG response

May 27, 2021

On the 10th anniversary of the Winterbourne View scandal, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) has today published its calls to Government.

VODG calls on the Government to commit to the following action:

  • That the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care direct the Care Quality Commission to rate all assessment and treatment units as ‘Requiring Improvement’ if any person has been living there for more than 12 months. The rating should be downgraded to ‘Inadequate’ if anyone has been living there for more than 24 months and all new admissions halted until the rating has improved.
  • That HM Treasury establish a community development fund of £400m over four years to pump prime the development of community facilities.
  • That the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care require the National Audit Office to publish an annual report to be presented to parliament on the progress of Transforming Care.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said, ‘The Winterbourne View scandal exposed the horrific abuse of people with learning disabilities and / or autism that took place at the Winterbourne View assessment and treatment unit (ATU) in 2011.

‘At the time, the government responded with promises to transform care for people with learning disabilities and / or autism. Ten years on and there are still more than 2,000 people with a learning disability and /or autism detained in ATUs and the all-to-regular exposes about abusive practices demonstrates how little progress has been made. This is simply unacceptable. It is clear that the government’s various programmes to deal with this has been ineffective and shows a clear need for less words and more action towards genuine transformation of care and support.’

The Chief Executive then highlighted the sheer number of people in care settings and added, ‘Thousands of people remain in these types of institutions and for some people, this has been over many years, is a national scandal – in what other circumstances can a British citizen be detained indefinitely by the state, without a trial? Secluded institutional care has never been appropriate, and there are community-based solutions that enable people to draw on care and support to improve outcomes and experiences.’

VODG has said that if the Government is truly committed to protecting and transforming the lives of people who are in the most vulnerable of circumstances, then it must put an end to this human rights scandal and instead do the right thing and significantly reduce its reliance on institutional ATUs.

Visit the VODG website for more information about their work.

In this knowledge article, Nikki Walker and Philippa Shirtcliffe of Quality Compliance Systems (QCS) reflect on the Winterbourne abuse scandal and interview frontline workers, policy makers and charities to determine how much progress has been made to combat failings in the sector.

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