Solar Centre abuse scandal: family’s anger at health trust


Relatives of people with learning difficulties who were allegedly abused at an NHS day centre are to take legal action against the trust that ran the centre.

They also want South Yorkshire police to reopen its investigation into the allegations of abuse by four members of staff at the Solar Centre in Doncaster.

Police investigated the allegations in 2007, but failed to produce enough evidence to press any charges.

Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) then carried out its own investigation and uncovered evidence that 18 people with learning difficulties, high support needs and physical and sensory impairments had been abused.

The trust has said the “majority” of the allegations were proven, although all four staff members are said to have denied all the allegations. The trust’s report was leaked to the press last month.

Adrian Milnes, whose step-son Richie was one of the alleged victims, called on the trust to name the four staff members.

He said: “We want to know their names. The trust should be open about that. The only assurance they have given us is that Richie will not come into contact with them on their premises.

“These people have been allowed to evaporate and disappear from the radar.”

A spokeswoman for RDaSH said two former members of its staff had been referred to the Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme – now the vetting and barring scheme run by the Independent Safeguarding Authority – and this “should ensure that they are not employed in the future in any other registered service caring for vulnerable adults”.

She said a third member of staff was no longer employed within the trust’s Learning Disabilities Directorate. The fourth member of staff was employed by a different trust. RDaSH was unable to say what measures would be taken to ensure that these two people would not have any contact with the alleged victims.

She said: “We can’t release specific details about members of staff because then we breach our duty of confidentiality towards them.”

Milnes said his family and at least one other would be seeking damages from the trust over its failure to protect their relatives.

He said his step-son’s behaviour had completely changed as a result of what happened. “It has been broken sleeps and nightmares for nearly six years now. He has become aggressive. He is now perceiving threats where he didn’t before.

“Before this happened he was very loving, patient and considerate. He doesn’t have any patience anymore.”

He is hoping to contact more relatives, so they can share information and offer mutual support.

12 August 2010