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Leading psychologist to review CQC's role at Whorlton Hall

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The Care Quality Commission has asked an eminent clinical psychologist to undertake an independent review of the way it regulated a specialist learning disabilities hospital at the centre of a care scandal.

The regulator announced on Wednesday that it had commissioned Professor Glynis Murphy to look into its regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019.

She is a professor of clinical psychology and disability at the University of Kent’s Tizard Centre – a leading UK academic centre working in autism, learning disability and community care.

The review comes after an undercover BBC Panorama investigation showed patients at the setting in County Durham being mocked and intimidated by staff.

In the light of the revelations, the CQC said it would commission a review and today released more details about the process, including the terms of reference.

According to the terms of reference, the review will consider whether “the abuse of patients that has been identified could have been recognised earlier by the regulatory or inspection process”.

It will go on to make recommendations for how the CQC can improve its regulation of similar services in the future, including the way risk is considered when planning inspections.

The recommendations will cover how inspection methodology and practice – and the monitoring of services – might be refined in order to increase the likelihood of detecting harm and abuse.

The review will also consider any other aspects of the regulatory process, including the way the CQC works with other agencies, “where lessons can be drawn from the experience of Whorlton Hall”, the document stated.

It makes it clear any recommendations to come out of the review will be limited to steps that can be “taken immediately” and do not require a change in the law.

Meanwhile the CQC also published the terms of reference for a separate independent review into how the CQC dealt with concerns raised by former CQC inspector Barry Stanley-Wilkinson.

Mr Stanley Wilkinson claims he wrote a report about Whorlton Hall in 2015 rating it “inadequate” but this was never published.

The CQC said the review, which is being undertaken by former senior civil servant David Noble, would “focus in particular on concerns raised about the draft report prepared in 2015, and how they were addressed through CQC’s internal processes”.

According to the terms of reference for the review state it will attempt to establish what concerns of abuse or harm were raised by Mr Stanley-Wilkinson and how these were shared with colleagues.

It will look at what happened to the 2015 draft inspection report and concerns raised by Mr Stanley-Wilkinson about the setting and report as well as “how his concerns were addressed through the CQC’s internal grievance and ‘speak up’ policies”.

Finally it will consider what impact decisions made in relation to the draft inspection report had on the subsequent 2016 inspection and report.

The review will make recommendations to the CQC on any areas for change or improvement including on “how concerns or disagreements that arise during the inspection or report writing staff are managed”.

The CQC has requested that both reviews be completed “as soon as practicable”. The findings of both reviews will be presented at the CQC’s public board meetings.

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