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Three “Homes”

March 2, 2017

In response to last night’s Dispatches programme, “Under Lock & Key”, here are three homes 140 years apart. Is there really much change?:


This is the Amersham workhouse. My great great grandfather, William Worley lived there for twenty years and died there in 1873. In the 1871 census, it is recorded that he was sharing a “room” with 60 other people. They would have been sleeping on the floor, on straw. 6 people in that room are classified as “idiots” – the 1871 classification for someone with a learning disability.


This is the Derby County Asylum which was rebranded in the 1950s as The Pastures Hospital. My Uncle Frank was sent there in 1955 and died there in 1957. He was 40 at the time of his death. On his death certificate, the cause of death is registered as “mental retardation”.

St Andrews

This is St Andrews hospital, the “UK’s leading specialist hospital” for learning disability that was featured in last night’s programme. One of the people in the programme was Bill Johnson who died there a few years back of constipation. Bill was one of four people on the same ward who died in seven months.

This is the statement that St Andrews put out ahead of last night’s programme:


There have been many commentaries on the programme. I can’t really add to those.

All I want to say is two things:

Thank you to the families, MPs, experts and most of all to Fauzia and Matthew for their bravery in telling their stories.

And in relation to the sentence in the statement that says: “These allegations are false, misleading and/or taken wholly out of context”, I’d like to say –

Fuck you St Andrews. When faced with a choice of what Fauzia and Matthew are saying and what your press officer has said, I know who I believe.


From → Social Care

  1. Press officer doesn’t know his/her breaches from his/her breeches, either. Fittlingly, s/he took the pants option.

  2. Rock on Mr. Neary – we all believe the same thing!

  3. Anyone that has been through the system knows the barbaric, sickening truth, I just hope the programme has more of an impact than Winterbourne View! St. Andrews should be closed immediately. Everyone thinks ISIS is barbaric!, and yet our Government are turning. Blind eye to the daily torture, suffering and death of our most vulnerable. It is criminal 😡😢

    • weary mother permalink

      I SO agree

      All those so hugely well rewarded blind eyes.

      (I refer to my comment, left earlier to day – on Marks last blog)

  4. It was shocking and entirely credible. St Andrews and places like it should close for good, now, and the resources redirected to the small community homes that really are homes for learning disabled people.

  5. Phillippa permalink

    I did my social work placement at Pastures hospital in 1988 and would leave each day and have “a cry” at home. I also visited Ely Hospital when I completed a Residential child care course in South Wales in the early 70s, and was one of the main instigators of the closure of Budock Hospital – Falmouth Cornwall in 2004 – 07. I am horrified that organisations like St Andrews are being paid by the NHS and LAs to provide such abusive and Institutional practices.The commissioners are as much to blame as anyone as they should not be referring people to an abusive system. And CQC well what more can I say……..!?

  6. Pauline Thomas permalink

    First of all why do hospitals like this exist at all? Maybe they exist because some people in the government, or their mates, are profiteering from it. Who are they? Not another Castlebeck surely?

  7. such an unkindness for the young people to be placed in an environment so wholly unsuitable. Where were the times and spaces for support/understanding and calm after the storm.
    Truly sickening that experts could ever imagine anything other than uncertainty and fear would result from living in such conditions. Cruelty and punishment for exhibiting distress will never pass for any sort of help . The young people themselves said all that was needed about the place.

  8. It’s clear that many psychiatrists have no ability to manage or monitor side effects like constipation, or any physical health problems.
    They shouldn’t overdose people with antipsychotics if they don’t then have the expertise or responsibility to monitor – people who can’t tell anyone about side effects shouldn’t be violated like this.
    Bill died.
    Others died.
    And where are all the psychologists, and where was holistic care? They provided no therapy.
    It’s not just St Andrews, as community care is also hardly monitored.
    The care provider in the programme sounds okay, but many small providers are also abusive.
    There’s just no compassion, not without those who love the vulnerable watching over them.

    Other ‘normal’ people have their families in hospital visiting all day – why are the vulnerable separated from theirs? What utter cruelty.

  9. simone aspis permalink

    Spot on – very very powerful and strong voices of people with LDs Fauzia and Matthew – How many teenagers do we know speak out against oppressive practices on a national TV programme such as Despatches –

  10. emily permalink

    “Can we quote you on that, Mr Neary?”

  11. lisa permalink

    I cant for the life of me, understand anyone who defends this place. If your loved one came out ok then you should be feeling ‘lucky’ and thats it.
    People who are still being defensive saying it was ‘great’ for their loved one are selfish, short sighted and certainly lack compassion. None of this is ‘tragic’ its NEGLECT. There right in front of you.

    • weary mother permalink

      The common reply of the lucky -.’we got out alive – or ‘ we had a good service’, can block justice and improvement for those who did not. And can protect the incompetent from accountability.

      The brave people who exposed the Stafford Hospital abominations were pilloried by similar blinkered and selfish attitudes.

  12. lisa permalink

    Totally agree. It is never ever ever alright to dismiss neglect, ever. Who ever you are and regardless of the others who have had safer care. One neglectful death out weighs everything.

    • weary mother permalink

      It is very visible in LA meetings where some parents can be very happy – for son or daughter still living at home, attending college say, and in good health. Direct payments are a bonus.

      They, can be very aggressive towards other (often older) parents who challenge LA in meeting; for heir son or daughter in ‘supported’ living – experiencing no access to health care (for no LA support to access) and experiencing ever more brutal assessments down to barely tolerable life for son daughter. Parents monitoring all – ensure safety – and all unmet needs including health care. Plus accessing complaints process and the law.

      First group are heard – have heads well patted – second are ignored – dismissed as ungrateful whingers.

      Diametrically different experiences of one organisation.

      Partly the reason why those who challenge have such an uphill struggle.

      And why little improves for the better.

      • A few good professionals and support workers in St Andrews will be feeling the impact of the news, as a few wards less frightening, although it feels like a jail.
        Much more is wrong, as the money made is huge, but somehow patients aren’t given quality food, furnishings or comfort – when they need it most.
        It’s not a place of healing.
        Patients are never seen walking in the grounds.

        The money should fund small local hospitals for times when 3 months of treatment- actual, useful treatment (not pretend treatment) might be needed. And these hospitals should be built like homes, not like labs.
        Closing down little ATUs everywhere plays straight into the hands of big places like St Andrews.
        ATUs as short term crisis centres, as they were supposed to be, with intensive care for the whole person – practical, emotional, spiritual – including family in a significant way.
        As a parent, I never wanted an ATU at all, but like Bill’s parents, I hoped they would help us.

        And community places are varied too. Families must watch over their children, wherever they are.

  13. lisa permalink

    Seen on twitter people saying it was ‘great for ours’ and what about the ‘success stories’. It is insinuating that the ‘others’ deserved to be treated this way for being ‘difficult’ and the deaths do not matter as more people ‘make it’ out of there! This seems to be from other parents as well ! WTF .This is hugely irresponsible, when people continued to be neglected to death.

    • In Bill’s case, four people died within several months – from constipation following Clozapine? Why should anyone die of constipation in the UK.. The ward needs public investigation. That’s the point.

      It also tells you that psychiatrists and nurses at St Andrews aren’t capable of monitoring side effects – they shouldn’t be allowed to give medication if they can’t monitor.
      Psychiatrists and LD nurses need to be able to take blood pressure, and do basic health checks – but they don’t. Psychiatrists are supposed to be doctors, but don’t do procedures that even junior doctors do.
      Then there was the doctor that pretended to have examined Bill.

      A few wards and psychiatrists and care staff have to produce ‘good results’, and discharge, or they just wouldn’t be funded.
      That many people are contained with no useful therapy, is what stands out.
      You just have to see the place – it isn’t a place you’d want to stay. The food is rubbish, there’s poor staffing, people aren’t allowed out when they desperately need fresh air..?
      Mental wellbeing isn’t understood.

      Professionals I work with pull faces at the mention of St Andrews.
      CQC saying ‘requires improvement’, means that things really are not good. ‘Inadequate’ actually means that dangerous practices happen.

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