Letter: Care in crisis

Sir: David Aaronovitch is right to say that the "selflessly excellent rub alongside the chronically inefficient" in our public services ("What's the point of spending a fortune on nurses and teachers?", 28 January). This is certainly true in services for people with learning disabilities.

In residential homes there is an appalling lack of care. It is not unusual for those who are supposed to support people with learning disabilities to spend hours watching television, talking among themselves, or speaking on the telephone. In this culture of laziness and complacency it should not be surprising that abuse often goes undetected.

Is there any good reason why the homes of vulnerable people should not be electronically surveyed? Is there any way other than supervision by closed circuit television that we can ensure that people with a learning disability receive an adequate service in their own homes? There are many problems with privacy and staff feeling uncomfortable but where is there a real alternative?

The powers of choice and complaint are meaningless unless we can see what is going on in these places. I have worked in the learning disability services since 1994 and know neglect is widespread. CCTV might even allow us to pay a decent wage to those who are doing their job conscientiously.

FRANCIS ELLIOT-WRIGHT

London SE4

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