Our Letter to Ian Trenholm

CEO Care Quality Commission

Ian Trenholm
Chief Executive Officer
Care Quality Commission
151 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SZ

30th May 2019

Dear Mr Trenholm,
Rightful Lives is an online exhibition, campaigning for the rights of people with learning disabilities and autism who are wrongly detained in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs). Please take a look at our exhibition here
http://rightfullives.net/ .

We are writing to you because we are concerned about a conflict of interest in how the Care Quality Commission (CQC) registers and inspects services.

Rightful Lives wrote to the Joint Human Rights Committee and the Equality and Human Rights Commission asking for action because of the sheer number of incidences we were being told about abuse and neglect in ATUs by individuals who had been detained and families. The majority, but not all, of these testimonies were about private providers operating in this sector.

Since last week’s screening of Panorama showing abuse and torture at Whorlton Hall, there has been much commentary from yourselves and others. However, for those of us who have been in one of these places, or had loved ones there, this does not come as a surprise as it is something we have been trying to tell you about for some time. Indeed, the CQC has already taken action against some of these providers because of sub-standard services.

Whilst we should welcome an independent review of the inspection of Whorlton Hall in the last 4 years, we question what a review is going to achieve and feel frustration that trusted inspectors, families and patients of these places are on the whole ignored. We are frustrated that the CQC continues to register these services that even though these are the services that government policy has dictated should be closed since Winterbourne View.

We noticed that you have Specialist Advisors that work for the CQC who also work for profit making providers that have services that are poor, rated as inadequate and/or are the subject of investigation. We would specifically like to ask about the role of staff in organisations such as Cygnet, Huntercombe and the Priory and how they can be working for the CQC as Specialist Advisors. Even with checks and balances to minimise conflict of interest, how could it be deemed appropriate to have Specialist Advisors who are in charge of failing services?

We would also like to ask about the appropriateness of senior CQC staff taking jobs in the private sector once they leave CQC. We understand that people are free to work for whom they choose but it is noted that the former CEO went on to work for one of the largest UK private providers of social care and the former Head of Hospital Inspection now works for one of the aforementioned large private healthcare providers. When this co-incides with questions around the quality of inspection of these services, we the public need to be assured that there is no conflict of interest.

On a much more individual level, we are in touch with scores of people held in ATUs because of a lack of community services, some who have good services but many who don’t. We recognise that the lack of community services is outside of CQCs remit but we put our faith in the CQC to keep our family members safe at the very least. This is simply not happening.

Yours sincerely,
Julie Newcombe,
On behalf of Rightful Lives