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People with learning difficulties abused -report

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) Checks will be carried out on all services providing care to Britons with learning difficulties after two independent bodies said there were ''serious concerns'' about their treatment.

The warning came after an investigation by the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) into Cornwall NHS Trust found ''unacceptable standards of care'' including evidence of institutional abuse.

''Let us first be clear we are not saying that the abusive behaviour we found in Cornwall is happening everywhere,'' said a joint statement from Anna Walker, the Healthcare Commission's chief executive, and David Behan, CSCI chief inspector.

''But sadly Cornwall is not the only service where serious allegations have been made in recent months.'' The Cornwall inquiry into Budock Hospital near Falmouth found evidence some staff were hitting, dragging and pushing people. There was an over-reliance on medication to control behaviour, and an illegal and prolonged use of restraint.

One person spent 16 hours a day tied to a bed or wheelchair by staff in the mistaken belief it was for the patient's own protection, the report found.

A number of staff have since been disciplined and a ward at Budock closed down.

The Healthcare Commission has now recommended that Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt place the Cornwall Trust under special measures.

REUTERS SK SSC1350

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