Solar Centre abuse scandal: Trust took two years to hand over report


The health trust at the centre of allegations of ill-treatment and neglect of people with learning difficulties at a day centre has taken nearly two years to pass its report into the allegations to the healthcare watchdog.

The report describes how staff at the Solar Centre in Doncaster allegedly hit service-users and used “inappropriate force”, as well as detailing other allegations of ill-treatment between 2005 and 2007.

The local newspaper that obtained the report said there were 44 allegations of abuse, and that staff allegedly threatened and humiliated service-users, withheld food and drink and locked them in cupboards.

The report was completed by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) in September 2008, and described incidents involving 18 service-users with learning difficulties, high support needs and physical and sensory impairments.

The trust said the “majority” of the allegations made against four members of staff were proven, although all four are said to have denied all the allegations.

But the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which took over the regulatory duties of the Healthcare Commission in April 2009, only received a copy of the report this week, nearly two years after it was completed. The Healthcare Commission was never given the report.

A CQC spokeswoman said: “Under the new licensing system we introduced in April, we can legally request any piece of information we believe is relevant to the quality and safety of care.”

The information in the report will now form part of the trust’s quality and risk profile. These profiles are used to decide “when, where and how” the CQC should take regulatory action.

The CQC spokeswoman said: “We will review the report to ensure the trust has learned lessons from these alleged incidents.”

Asked whether CQC was happy only to be given the report this week, she said: “Technically it is not compulsory for the trust to give us this report. The reason we wanted to see it was to see if there is anything in there we have not seen already.

“We are where we are. We have requested to see it and they have given it to us willingly and we will now take a look at it.”

Ian Jerams, RDaSH’s chief operating officer, said: “The Healthcare Commission and Care Quality Commission were kept fully informed at the time of the incidents being brought to our attention and throughout the investigation.

“Following a request from the CQC the trust has shared the contents of the report with them.”

5 August 2010