Emily called for an independent enquiry into the abuse scandal at Winterbourne View care home in an Urgent Question in Parliament yesterday.
Emily asked why the government had decided not to hold “an external independent inquiry” into the matter and said “full and frank answers” about what had happened at the care home were needed.
The full text of Emily’s question:
Emily Thornberry: The Opposition agree entirely with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Gentleman. It was with great shock and sadness that we saw the terrible events happening, before our eyes, on the television screens. To see the abuse of the most vulnerable by those entrusted with their care was truly shocking and sickening. In the wake of this tragedy, however, vital questions must, in our view, be answered fully and impartially.
Although internal investigations conducted by the CQC and South Gloucestershire council, both of which are directly connected with this failure, will be of some value, they are nevertheless insufficient. We are asking for an independent inquiry similar in nature to the well-respected “Healthcare for all” inquiry, which Sir Jonathan Michael carried out in May 2007. The Government could include in that inquiry experts to work alongside Mark Goldring, such as Professor Jim Mansell, who has already conducted two reviews for the Department of Health into the structure of homes for those with learning disabilities, because the issues raised in his reports are still to be resolved, as this tragic case suggests.
We need full and frank answers. Was the CQC’s failure to monitor the treatment of residents due to the lack of resources? Was it due to the shortage of 300 staff, as reported in the Financial Times last week? Does the CQC have adequate powers to act in cases such as that of Winterbourne View and, if so, is it using its powers appropriately? If not, how must the CQC be strengthened to prevent a repeat of this failure and what actions will the Government take to ensure that staff working in social care are better trained and regulated so that events such as those at Winterbourne View can never be repeated?
Last week, the Minister created confusion with his response. On Tuesday, he seemed to imply that there would be an independent review of the case but by Wednesday he seemed to have changed his mind. Does he now think that internal reviews will be sufficient to answer the questions? I hear what he says about sub judice and the police inquiry, but we are not asking for an inquiry into individual culpability. We are asking for an independent inquiry into the failure of the system, for that inquiry to begin immediately and for there to be no delays. We need assurances that there will be a wide-ranging review, held in public, that will shine a light on the terrible events at Winterbourne View. Only an independent inquiry will do.