Vulnerable woman was abused at two care homes

Nina Lakhani
Saturday 30 July 2011 00:00 BST

A vulnerable woman with learning disabilities who was moved out of Winterbourne View Hospital after the BBC's Panorama programme filmed residents being punched and humiliated had previously been mistreated at an NHS institution in Cornwall.

Failures at Winterbourne View which allowed cruel, untrained and unsupervised "carers" to routinely restrain, assault and taunt people unable to defend themselves are similar to the abuses suffered by people at Budock Hospital in Falmouth in 2006.

Andrew Hannam, a solicitor who represented victims from Cornwall and is now acting for Winterbourne residents, said: "The point has to be made just how frighteningly similar the criticisms are and how poor people have been at learning the lessons."

The Cornwall inquiry triggered the closure of all long-term institutions in the UK with promises to find people with learning disabilities more humane supported accommodation in the community. But research over the last two months has found that thousands of people have been left languishing in so-called assessment and treatment units, like Winterbourne, with little effort made by NHS trusts and councils to move them elsewhere.

Mark Godring, chief executive of Mencap, is part of a group appointed by the Government to investigate the use of the so-called assessment units, which have an average stay of two years.

He said: "We closed all the long-stay hospitals but there is a real danger that they have opened up again by the back door as there are no incentives to move people out into community accommodation."

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