Allegations of sexual abuse by NHS staff against learning disabled people to be investigated

Allegations of sexual and physical abuse by NHS trust staff against people with learning disabilities are to be investigated by the healthcare watchdog.

The Healthcare Commission will examine the quality of care and level of safety for people with learning disabilities provided by Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust.

The trust invited the commission to hold the investigation following incidents within its learning disability service, including allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Two former trust employees have been charged under the Sexual Offences Act.

The trust provides care, therapy and accommodation at Orchard Hill long stay hospital in Carshalton, Sutton, for people with severe or profound learning disabilities.

It also runs eight community homes in Sutton and Merton, Surrey, and at Osborne House in Hastings, East Sussex.

Nigel Ellis, head of investigations at the Healthcare Commission said: “We will not hesitate to take swift action if we find cause for concern.

“Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust has acted responsibly in asking us to undertake this investigation and is already taking steps to help ensure patient safety.“

As part of its investigation, the commission will conduct face-to-face and telephone interviews with service users, their families and carers and trust staff.

The investigation will be conducted in collaboration with the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of Sutton and Merton PCT, said: “We take the personal safety of the people we care for extremely seriously. The trust board is deeply concerned at these allegations”

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