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Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Tuesday, 31 May 2011 21:12 UK
Castlebeck statement to Panorama

The following is a statement from specialist healthcare provider Castlebeck sent to BBC Panorama on 27 May 2011 in response to allegations of unacceptable behaviour at one of its facilities.

We are deeply distressed by the completely unacceptable and appalling behaviour of a small number of our employees at one of our facilities. Such behaviour will not be tolerated, and we are truly sorry. Castlebeck employs 2,100 people, providing care for 580 service users at 56 locations nationwide.

As soon as Castlebeck's senior management were made aware of these allegations on 12 May 2011 we notified the police, other relevant authorities and the families of the patients named in the allegations.

Staff alleged to have behaved inappropriately have been suspended and reported to the police, who are now investigating. Castlebeck is in active consultation with the appropriate authorities with regard to the future of Winterbourne View, which cares for up to 24 patients.

We were shocked when Panorama contacted us with these allegations on 12 May 2011 and shocked that this alleged behaviour had not been detected via the whistle-blowing policy that the company had in place.

Two managers have separately been suspended because of the apparent failures to comply with company policy. A respected consultant psychiatrist working in the hospital and other professional staff had no knowledge of the very upsetting events which Panorama witnessed in February.

The company would like to reiterate its distress at the allegations, and to acknowledge that they are therefore significantly more distressing for the families of those involved. We have contacted the families and expressed our deep remorse.

A committee of the non-executive directors has commissioned the international consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to undertake a thorough review of the company, including its culture, medical protocols and communications systems.

PwC has included in its team an eminent UK clinician who will be an integral part of the review.

This review will be completed within 30 days and its findings and recommendations conveyed directly to the non-executive committee.

The committee intends to share the report with the appropriate authorities and to implement the recommendations in full.

As a matter of urgency, Castlebeck has taken a number of additional measures -

  • We have commissioned an external advocacy group to undertake a review of the patient experience at all our hospitals
  • We have set up an external whistle-blowing phone line for our 2,100 employees
  • A non-executive director of the company has been appointed to oversee, audit and check all future complaints and Adult Safeguarding referrals throughout the group on a monthly basis
  • We are also reviewing all patient care records at all of our 56 facilities over the past 12 months, to look for any evidence of other causes for concern

Lee Reed, Castlebeck's chief executive officer, added: "Having spent my entire career in health and social care, I intend to leave no stone unturned to ensure that this type of horrific event is never allowed to happen again.

I have been chief executive since January, and my job now is to ensure that this company moves forward from this appalling episode to having among the best, if not the very best, standards in the provision of care for some of the most vulnerable people in society."

The terrible events at Winterbourne View are a cause of deep sorrow and regret for all at our company. We are here to care for people, we are not here to allow them to suffer harm. But we cannot change the past. We can only improve the present and assure a better future.

Patient safety will always be Castlebeck's priority and we shall continue to have a zero tolerance policy towards inappropriate behaviour directed against those who use our services.

Until the PwC review is completed and submitted, the company will make no further comment.



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