Wednesday 24 January 2018

Scandal of abuse at Irish tycoons' care homes

Nina Lakhani and Luke Byrne

Hundreds of people with learning disabilities and mental-health problems have been subjected to inhumane and substandard care in British hospitals and care homes owned by Castlebeck – backed by Irish businessmen JP McManus, John Magnier and Denis Brosnan.

Evidence of residents being routinely locked in their bedrooms, taunted by staff members and restrained for no good reason was uncovered by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors who visited 23 institutions owned by the company.

Several face closure after inspectors found half were failing to meet legally binding standards designed to keep vulnerable people safe from abuse and neglect. Only seven received a clean bill of health.

Castlebeck is 80pc owned by former Kerry Group chief executive Denis Brosnan's Swiss-based Lydian Capital Partnership -- whose shareholders include JP McManus and John Magnier.

Mr Brosnan said that he was “shocked and appalled” at the conditions found in the homes.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, Mr Brosnan promised that auditors PWC would undertake a full review of the company's services.

Castlebeck charges around €4,000 a week to care for each resident. The investment fund, backed by two of Ireland's richest businessmen, JP McManus and John Magnier, has overseen an 80 per cent rise in the annual turnover since buying the company in 2006.

Earlier this year, an investigation found evidence of widespread abuse of patients at the Castlebeck-owned Winterbourne View home in Bolton.

Twelve people who worked at the hospital were subsequently arrested.

A follow-up report found that more than half of the group's 23 facilities were failing to meet legally binding standards.

British Minister for Social Care, Paul Burstow, said he was "alarmed by the failures", which raised major concerns not just about the company, but about the regulator, and health and social services that were happy to leave vulnerable adults for years in such institutions.

The CQC revealed systemic failings across the company's homes, including widespread use of untrained staff and the failure to inform authorities about incidents of possible abuse or injury. At some homes carers regularly worked 12-hour shifts without a break, without carrying out rudimentary checks on possible criminality. Many vulnerable residents are given no say in their lives.

The manager of Rose Villa in Bristol has been suspended and it has been closed to new patients. There was no evidence of criminal abuses like those exposed at Winterbourne View, said the CQC.

The Nursing Midwifery and General Medical Councils last night said they would investigate nurses and doctors who had failed to blow the whistle on substandard care. The CQC will inspect another 150 similar institutions providing long- term care for people with learning disabilities.

Mr Burstow said: "To find significant failures in half of the facilities is entirely unacceptable. The company needs to take a long hard look at itself to see how such a culture was allowed to develop. I am on the side of the relatives and victims of abuse in this situation. I want answers from the professional regulators and the CQC."

Lee Reed, Castlebeck's chief executive, said: "[We] acknowledge that some [of our services] have not met the high standards we would expect to achieve, or which the people in our care rightfully deserve. We are committed to addressing all of these shortcomings as a matter of urgency."

Denis Brosnan, founder of LCP, said: "PricewaterhouseCooper has been commissioned to do a full review of all the company's services. We were shocked and appalled at what happened and determined that this will never happen again."

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