Adults with learning disabilities at the now closed Long Leys Court in Lincoln were let down by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, with a new report highlighting “abuse and neglect”.
Patients were transferred to other places or discharged home around 2015 and the unit remained closed to patients. After lengthy investigations, a final decision was taken in 2018 not to reopen the unit.
In June 2015, LPFT notified Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB) of serious concerns about 12 adults with complex combinations of learning disabilities and mental health problems, some of whom had physical problems too. The seven men and five women had an age span on discharge of between 20 and 69.
The allegation was that they had been emotionally and physically abused while NHS inpatients at Long Leys Court.
Some 43 additional adults at risk may have been subject to abuse whilst admitted to Long Leys Court and the unit was closed while investigations took place.
Lincolnshire Police commenced an investigation into the death and other incidents of concern that were subsequently raised. Disciplinary action was taken by LPFT where required.
Detective Superintendent Martyn Parker, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People, Lincolnshire Police, said: “A wide range of material was gathered and reviewed as part of the inquiry, which involved the investigation into a number of cases of alleged criminal conduct by LPFT employees who were either working at Long Leys Court at the time or had previously worked there. None of these investigations resulted in criminal proceedings.
“The in depth work carried out by the police helped to assist other agencies and the independent author with the final lessons learned and subsequent recommendations.”
When asked about how many staff were disciplined and what action was taken, Sarah Connery, acting Chief Executive at LPFT, said: “It would be inappropriate to talk about specifics and numbers, but appropriate disciplinary action was taken, including dismissal where appropriate.”
An independent review commissioned by the LSAB was published on Wednesday, December 16.
Within the report it says that “the abuse and neglect at Long Leys Court occurred in the years immediately following the national outcry over another assessment and treatment unit, Winterbourne View, is one of the most striking aspects of this case.”
The review found that there was a failure to identify the concerns by organisations that commissioned and oversaw the service, as well as a culture of bullying, over medicating, and suppressed whistle blowing. Five families took part in the review and the aim of the report is to identify and promote learning and not to reinvestigate or blame.
LPFT said it has taken significant actions across all services including more robust monitoring structures and improved training for staff, particularly around preventing and managing violence and aggression.
After the publication of the review Sarah Connery, acting Chief Executive at LPFT, welcomed the report and said: “We take the safety of our patients and the quality of our services very seriously.
“We are deeply sorry that the standards of care at Long Leys Court fell well below what we would expect. We apologise to the service users and their families, and we welcome the publication of the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board review into the multi-agency system response to what took place at Long Leys Court.”
She added: “We took immediate action to ensure the safety of our patients, including disciplinary action where necessary. We fully investigated all of the incidents and practices at the unit to establish what went wrong at that time and to reduce the likelihood of anything similar happening in any of our services again. We have taken significant actions across all services as a consequence.”
The Lincolnite asked why the process had taken so long, from June 2015 until the publication of the review in December 2020,
Heather Roach, Chair of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “A decision was taken to commission the review in 2016, but there were a large amount of cases and information to be examined and it was decided 12 would be looked at to provide a cross-section of individuals.
“It was a complex review and took considerable time. In general terms we would normally want to deliver a report in a quicker time frame than this, but it was very complex.”
Patient case study
A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Lincolnite that her son was admitted to Long Leys Court for care and treatment, but claims “instead he was abused, neglected and over medicated over the period of a year.”
She alleges that after raising complaints about his care she was labelled as a “persistent complainer” and her son suffered, and still suffers, “from the trauma inflicted upon him”.
She said she also used to be a staff member at LPFT and claimed the trust’s whistle blowing policy is not confidential. She criticised the trust saying it “inflicts people with mental health issues if you speak out about their shabby care and treatment”.
She said: “As a family we have lost our son, their brother. He is now a shadow of the young man he previously was, but his current care provider treats him respectfully, with dignity, and his care package is centred around him and his needs.”