Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police, and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust have all been criticised for failing to provide adequate care for three people with autism and learning difficulties, a major review has found. The inquiry’s final report describes the “abusive nature” of the system that is meant to support some of Bristol’s most vulnerable people.
Review lead Sir Stephen Bubb, who was commissioned by Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership to investigate reports of ill treatment experienced by three men in multi-agency support, said that the men’s families were “emotionally scarred by the experience” as, amongst other issues, they had been unable to challenge decisions made by the many organisations involved.
Bubb also carried out the inquiry into the 2016 Winterbourne View scandal, and reflected in this recent report that “how little has changed” since that inquiry ended. The report concluded with three recommendations for the city council and the other agencies involved. Firstly, that a ‘charter of rights’ should guide authorities towards improved provision for people with autism or learning difficulties and their families, secondly that the families of those affected ought to have a ‘right to challenge’ decisions to move their family members to inpatient facilities, and finally that an independent local commissioner be appointed to oversee the wellbeing of people with autism and learning difficulties.
Councillor Helen Holland, Bristol’s cabinet lead for adult care, said: “We welcome the recommendations and accept all the findings. Bristol City Council commissioned this report in 2019 because it was important to us to establish how aware local agencies across Bristol are about autism and people with learning disabilities and to understand how we can progress our ambition to create a city that is welcoming for all.”
Since the inquiry was commissioned, the council, police and health trust have all carried out a number of changes to their provision and care for people with learning difficulties and autism.
Voscur commends the council for commissioning this inquiry and accepting the report’s recommendations, which follows a very difficult period for the families involved. The inquiry’s findings make for difficult reading, but present the opportunity for further learning and improvements to be made to the city’s system of support. The findings also present Bristol’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector with a reminder of the importance in ensuring our communities are respected and cared for in a way that best serves users and their families.