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Costner & McCubbin

June 27, 2017

The first two days of the latest 7 Days of Action campaign have been incredible. A collective coming together of humanity, rage, brains and fierce determination.

The campaign has received a tremendous boost from the brilliant BBC journalist, Jayne McCubbin, who managed to secure slots on two consecutive days to highlight the issues that we are campaigning about. On the first day, Jayne featured Tony Hickmott who has been in an ATU for 16 years and Eddie Hanlon who is currently in Newcastle ATU when his family home is in Bristol.

Today, Jayne focused on the excellent report from Lancaster University which raised the ever growing private provision of ATUs and in patient services. People with learning disabilities are now “exported” from their home areas and “imported” to the private facility. The report pulls no punches. Our children are commodities. We are in a new era of modern slavery.

Most distressing today was the images of the late Stephanie Bincliffe, locked in a cell for 18 months without windows, toilet facilities and fed through a hatch. She died, although the coroner judged that neglect didn’t play a part in her death. The providers were the Huntercombe group (Yes, them again) who gave the BBC a statement basically blaming Stephanie and her “complex needs” for her care and subsequent death. Stephanie’s mother revealed that Huntercombe charged £13000 per week for this “expert care”.

Huntercombe’s statement showed precisely the difficulty any campaign for change is up against. The dehumanising is complete. The providers are the victims of a person’s complex needs. The statement also reveals the chasm between attitudes to professional providers of care and families. Just imagine if I’d made this statement to the social worker at Steven’s care review last week:

“Yeah. For the last 18 months we’ve locked Steven in the box room. He never comes out: we never go in. I’ve cut a hole in the door to pass his food through. In the morning I pass a packet of wet wipes through the hatch for his personal care. He’s become ever so aggressive, so we can’t let him out of his room to exercise. And would you believe it, he’s put on 10 stone under this new care regime”.

Immediate safeguarding alert. Police investigation. Prison sentence for abuse and neglect. The newspapers will call me “The Most Evil Father in Britain”.

Yet, the Huntercombe Group can trouser £13000 for doing this, get a good CQC report and the Department of Health and NHS England will claim they are doing an expert job in difficult circumstances.

It stinks.

As if she wasn’t fabulous enough, after her film Jayne joined the presenters on the sofa for an interview and referenced my favourite film, Field of Dreams. She quoted one of the report’s authors Chris Hatton and said that the private providers adopt the Kevin Costner principle – if you build it, they will come.

All day long I’ve been reflecting on how we can break through this. Now that 52% of provision is in private hands, the task feels more difficult than ever. The barriers will be higher; the accountability much less.

Needing to switch my brain off, I put on Field of Dreams. Everyone remembers the “if you build it, he will come” line but often forgotten is that Costner hears two other messages:

“Ease his pain”.

& “Go the distance”.

And that’s exactly what we have to do.



From → Uncategorized

  1. It is actually a crime to lock a child or adult up in a room for their own good, e.g. to stop them going out and buying heroin. People have been imprisoned even when the victim testified in their favour. Yet the MHA apparently entitles psychiatrists to lock someone in a room without sanitation for more than a year for no apparent benefit to them. It’s a scandal.

  2. £13000 a week will buy the provider luxury holidays, the best food, easy days at work.
    What were Huntercombe’s staff, psychologists and OTs doing?
    I’ve always called this modern day slavery.

    And in days of recession, they’ve been rolling in money, for doing no work.

  3. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Hitler would have been proud of the care (wrong word) that professional clinicians are meting out to our loved ones.

    Governments are burying their heads in the sand and encouraging huge companies to profit from such misery. Is this corruption?

    • Yes, Hilter was all for eugenics.
      Trouble is, even professionals and care managers become disabled, so they may be at the receiving end.
      Why not just honestly care for each other, all of us?

  4. LizzieD permalink

    Most of us (I think) struggle with these enormous balance sheet figures when we struggle to get much much less for an extra hour or two of care. The pre-election squabbling over social care seemed to focus squarely on funding – not to mention making it seem like it ONLY affected the very elderly. I think the focus ought to be more on WHAT is provided, and WHO is providing it – as you are doing. Running it for private profit is obscene. Under ddirect payments, most of us could provide much better care at home for much smaller sums, but the framework to do that doesn;t exist.

    What I am trying to say is that funding isn;t the ONLY problem – the will to provide appropriate care and the secrecy and fragmentation around it, the sheer hopeless inefficiency of what is happening also needs to be looked at.

    Privatisation, outsourcing and cost cutting clearly didn’t do much for fire safety, and now there is a huge and more expensive mess to be cleared up. Our charges die and suffer behind closed doors, without much in the way of public scrutiny or concern, and this is unbearable to contemplate.

  5. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Oh how I agree with you LizzieD

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