CQC Releases Independent Review into Whorlton Hall by Prof. Glynis Murphy

On the 18th March 2020, the CQC published its independent review into the regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019. The review was undertaken by clinical psychologist, Professor Glynis Murphy. The review noted that alterations to the way CQC works might have made it possible for the abuse to have been detected. These alterations include in-depth interviews with service users and families, CCTV, and the interviewing of short-term staff no longer employed by the provider.


The report highlighted a series of key recommendations:


  1. Prioritising gathering information from people with learning disabilities and families during and between inspections via thorough interviews including the use of reasonable adjustments e.g. talking mats
  2. Using information already gathered on services to create a list of ‘red flags’ for a service at risk of abuse or restrictive practices
  3. More flexible inspections when there is a risk identified/continuous Requires Improvement rating i.e. longer and more thorough inspections; reduced need for overwhelming evidence allowing inspectors to go in earlier where there is a concern.
  4. More inspections in the evenings and at the weekends including unannounced inspections
  5.  No longer allowing the registration or expansion of isolated services
  6. Taking abuse seriously when it is uncovered and improving reaction to whistleblowing and complaints by recognising that this is probably the ‘tip of the iceberg’


We know that it is always the people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families who live with the consequences of the failings highlighted in the review.


The recommendations in this report are not new. In 2012 we supported Experts by Experience (Family Carers) as CQC inspection team members as part of the CQC’s Learning Disability Review of 150 services. Many of our recommendations were the same as those made in this review: staff should be highly qualified and skilled; family carers and people with lived experience should be routinely involved in all CQC inspections; all inspections should be unannounced and at varied times including early morning/evening/weekends/holiday periods; and the CQC should audit the practice of monitoring safeguarding alerts during inspection work. The issues are well-established – but action to address them is long overdue.


All parts of the system need to work efficiently and in a co-ordinated way to deliver high quality appropriate support for children and adults with learning disabilities and/ or autism. The Transforming Care programme was meant to make this happen- but progress has been too slow and patchy, and the abuse uncovered by the media at Whorlton Hall is a consequence of that. There are collective responsibilities for the failure to ensure that people’s human rights are respected.


Children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism are entitled to the right support, in the right place, at the right time-their human rights are the same as anyone else’s. All parts of the system need to work well together and to a high standard.


Another review, another report, the same recommendations - now it is time for action.


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