Solar Centre abuse scandal: Trust denies watering down report


The NHS trust at the heart of a day centre abuse scandal has denied “watering down” its report into the allegations.

The Serious Untoward Incident report into the allegations of abuse of people with learning difficulties at the Solar Centre in Doncaster was completed by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) in September 2008, but was leaked to a newspaper last month.

The report says there were 44 alleged incidents between 2005 and 2007, involving 18 service-users, but provides details of just four alleged incidents at the day centre, in which a disabled person was locked in a store room, two others were hit, and another was slapped in the face and threatened.

The report also details some incidents involving a staff minibus, including staff throwing biscuits onto the floor for service-users to pick up and eat.

But Disability News Service has also seen a report by another agency into the allegations involving just one of the 18 disabled people, Richie Rowe, which suggests the alleged abuse was far more serious than suggested by the trust’s report.

This report describes how two members of staff allegedly kicked Rowe’s wheelchair “from one side of the room to the other causing Richie to crash into patients and the walls”.

In another incident, Rowe – who has learning difficulties and high support needs – was allegedly lifted out of his wheelchair and thrown onto the floor.

On another occasion, it is alleged that two of the staff members each grabbed one of his arms and legs and threw him onto a trampoline.

Adrian Milnes, Rowe’s step-father, said the “watered down” report had led families to “think it wasn’t as bad as we had thought”.

He said the trust had acted “immorally” and was “just as culpable” as the alleged perpetrators.

Valerie Kirsopp, whose son Robert was another alleged victim of the abuse, also said the allegations were more serious than those detailed in the trust’s report.

She added: “It just beggars belief that nothing is being done about it.”

South Yorkshire police are currently reviewing the trust’s report and considering whether to reopen their original investigation from 2007, which failed to provide enough evidence to press any charges.

Kirsopp said: “I am so angry with the trust and the police. I have no faith in the police. If they can take an easy way out, they will do.”

Sandra Mountain, whose daughter was another of the disabled people to have allegedly been abused at the day centre, also accused the trust of “playing down” the seriousness of the allegations.

Ian Jerams, RDaSH’s chief operating officer, said the main purpose of the report was to “identify the root causes” of the incidents and “determine any lessons to be learnt”, while detailed descriptions of the allegations were provided to relatives through their individual “safeguarding conferences”.

He added: “Whilst the Serious Untoward Incident report makes summary reference to the incidents, there has been no attempt to ‘water down’ the severity of any incidents, which were described in full with all the relatives concerned.”

All four former members of day centre staff involved in the alleged abuse are said to deny all of the allegations.

19 August 2010