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Whorlton Hall review

26 May 2023

Durham Safeguarding Adults Partnership has published its full report of the Safeguarding Adults Review into Whorlton Hall. The SAR, led by independent SCIE Associates, is now live on the Durham Safeguarding Adult Partnerships website (See May 2025).

SCIE’s Chief Executive Kathryn Smith says:

The outdated practice of sending adults with learning disabilities and autism to distant hospital placements has resulted in multiple safeguarding scandals, court cases, reviews and investigations. Following our work on the Whorlton Hall Safeguarding Adults Review, SCIE believes we need to prioritise investing in the delivery of meaningful housing and support options nearer home for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

SCIE’s Chief Executive, Kathryn Smith, concludes:

The Whorlton Hall SAR goes onto highlight seven findings exploring the systemic barriers that make good safeguarding outcomes more difficult to achieve. The findings offer potential tangible solutions that could lead to change. Amongst these, the SAR identified the importance of commissioning authorities providing a trusted professional keeping in regular contact with the person with a learning disability during the hospital placement, the continuing limited availability of advocacy for people with learning disabilities and autism in hospital settings, and the need to create clearer expectations and guidance to support more robust provider-led investigations into safeguarding incidents in these settings when they occur.

SCIE supports the position statement calling for change, from the authors of several key safeguarding reviews including:

  • Dr Sheila Fish (SCIE Associate, Lead Reviewer of the Whorlton Hall SAR).
  • Dr Margaret Flynn (Author of Winterbourne View Hospital SCR and Cawston Park Hospital SAR),
  • Dame Christine Lenehan (Council for Disabled Children, Lead Reviewer of Hesley Group review – Safeguarding children with disabilities and complex health needs in residential settings).

You can read and endorse the statement, which is co-ordinated by The Coalition for Change and hosted on the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board website.

In addition, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has a range of resources to support better commissioning while Mencap provides updated information about progress to tackle this issue, including the progress against the Government’s commitment to reduce the number of people with a learning disability and autistic people in inpatient units by 50% by March 2024.

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