Health and police chiefs have apologised for delays in investigating the abuse of severely disabled patients at a Doncaster care centre – seven years after the issue first came to light.
A Serious Case Review into the abuse of patients at the Solar Centre, at Balby’s St Catherine’s Hospital, said different agencies should have worked better together and the families’ fight for justice should have been resolved sooner.
Complaints of abuse were first made in 2007, but it was not until last year that two members of staff at the unit were jailed.
Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board published an independent report into abuse at the centre perpetrated by care assistants James Hinds and Susan Murphy between 2005 and 2007.
The couple were jailed for two years and nine months at Sheffield Crown Court last year after being found guilty of slapping, hitting and mistreating patients in their care.
They were convicted of ill-treating 12 different outpatients between them and the judge said it was ‘impossible to assess the upset, distress and bewilderment’.
A report commissioned by DSAPB and written by Gill Poole reviewed what happened at the centre run by Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.
Roger Thompson, independent chairman of the DSAPB, said the report highlighted that agencies should have worked quicker and better together.
He said: “First of all and most importantly, I would like to sincerely apologise on behalf of the DSAPB to the victims and families in this case for the amount of time it has taken to reach this point and for this report to be concluded.
“There are lessons to be learned from this case and agencies should have worked better together at the time.
“It will be little comfort to those victims and families to hear that in Doncaster, things have changed for the better since this case and we do work more effectively together and have people at the heart of what we do especially in safeguarding. I do want to stress that.
“That said, the report does recognise agencies could have done things more expediently and in a more coordinated way.”
Dr Nav Ahluwalia, RDaSH executive medical director, said: “We apologise again to the service users and families and welcome the report. The trust took immediate action as soon as we were made aware of the allegations.
“The trust will not tolerate staff mistreating patients or service users.”
Detective Chief Inspector Nat Shaw, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We accept we added to the difficulties in 2007 in bringing this case before the courts and have sincerely apologised to the families of the victims for the delay in achieving justice for their loved ones.”