Minister demands a copy of unpublished report

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THE Government has demanded a copy of the confidential report which alleges abuse in the two privately owned residential homes.

John Bowis, parliamentary secretary at the Department of Health, has instructed the Social Services Inspectorate to contact the director of social services at Buckinghamshire County Council to get a a copy of the unpublished report.

After yesterday's revelations in the Independent, David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, called for the report to be published and for the Department of Health to investigate the management of Buckinghamshire's social services 'and ensure they are doing all that they should be to safeguard those in care'.

He added: 'If the Independent's report is correct, these are very serious and worrying allegations, and they should be published as part of the normal process of open government.

'The county council must also explain fully and publicly why they are not prepared to take any legal action on this matter.'

James Churchill, chief executive of the Association for Residential Care, said: 'A number of vulnerable people have apparently been badly abused and no one so far is to be brought to book for it . . . If the local authority cannot act, who will act to try to obtain justice for these people?'

Mencap, the mental handicap charity, said the allegations were a shocking demonstration of the need for national standards of care and a legal framework to protect vulnerable adults. Fred Heddell, chief executive, said: 'The guidelines on recruiting, training and monitoring staff in residential care are not adequate.'

Further inquiries by the Independent suggest that many professionals and charities working with mentally handicapped adults fear such abuse is widespread in their own homes and residential homes.