Solar Centre scandal: NHS trust ‘guilty of morally unjustifiable acts’


newslatestThe NHS trust at the centre of a day centre scandal is guilty of “morally unjustifiable acts that verge on criminality”, according to the step-father of one of the survivors of the abuse.

Adrian Milnes’ step-son Richie was one of the adults with learning difficulties and high support needs who was abused over a two-year period at the Solar Centre, Doncaster, between 2005 and 2007.

A serious case review into the scandal was published last week but omitted nearly all of the concerns highlighted by Disability News Service (DNS) since 2010, including serious failings by South Yorkshire police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), which runs the day centre.

Milnes said: “In 2007, the only thing that concerned the trust at the time was the way they looked, and it has just continued on.”

Milnes said the review, published by the multi-agency Doncaster Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board, “does not tell us what went wrong and how it went wrong”, but did demonstrate an “absence of accountability by all of the agencies”.

He said the review was “very, very light on content” and “tells us nothing new”, particularly when compared with the hard-hitting Winterbourne View serious case review two years ago.

Milnes said he was “at a total loss” as to what should happen now. “Very little will happen and very little has changed and will change in the future.

“Everybody is ducking and diving, still trying to avoid taking responsibility.”

He said RDaSH had done nothing to support Richie, whose behaviour has been severely affected by the abuse he suffered, and that the trust had told the family in the past that it did not have the resources to support him, although it was now claiming it would do “whatever is necessary” to repair the damage and enhance Richie’s quality of life.

Milnes said he was also concerned about other survivors of the abuse.

Because of police and CPS failures, it took six years – and two unsuccessful investigations – for the case to reach court, even though an RDaSH report suggested that 18 people with learning difficulties, high support needs and physical and sensory impairments had been assaulted and otherwise abused at the Solar Centre.

Concerns about the serious case review have also been raised by Gary Bourlet, co-development worker of People First England, and a leading figure in the self-advocacy movement.

He said there should have been input into the review from self-advocacy organisations, and added: “The whole review should have been user-led. It would not have to be all people who use day services, it could be done by self-advocates.”

Bourlet said the reason there were so many mistakes was because agencies still do not work together. “They don’t know how to. That’s why they are making mistakes.

“They will probably always deny that there is abuse in their centres, but it goes on everywhere, then there are cover-ups and it’s difficult for people to whistleblow. It’s difficult for staff and service-users.

“When it comes to abuse or hate crime, it always takes too long to get justice.”

He added: “I am not for keeping day centres open because of all the things that go on in these places.”

Nursing assistants Susan Murphy, aged 44, and James Hinds, aged 59, were found guilty in May 2013 of a total of 25 charges of ill-treating people with learning difficulties, physical impairments and high support needs at the Solar Centre.

The two other defendants, Julie Burge and Michael Barnard, were cleared of all charges.

The service-users had suffered more than two years of abuse from Hinds and Murphy, who intimidated other staff into silence.

24 July 2014