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BASW condemns abuse of women at learning disability unit

Response follows closure of Cygnet Health Care’s Yew Trees hospital

BASW is appalled to learn that women with learning disabilities and mental health needs were abused in a learning disability hospital, and we condemn the actions of the staff involved.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection into Yew Trees hospital in Essex this summer found eight examples of inappropriate staff behaviour, including abuse, after inspecting CCTV footage.

Enforcement action against provider Cygnet Health Care has followed, leading to staff being sacked and the closure of the hospital.

This evidence raises significant concerns about closed cultures and human rights protections, especially within the context of lockdown and ongoing restrictions of movement due to the pandemic.  

BASW fully supports the movement to get people with learning disabilities and/or autism out of institutional care and to support them in their Human Right to have a private and family life.

This was recently underlined by BASW passing a motion at its AGM last week – motion 7 – to advocate for the urgent implementation of a social model of care and the key roles that social workers and advocates should take.

BASW also supports the need for the CQC inspection framework to be reviewed in line with the full recommendations made by the advisory group People with Learning Disabilities and Autistic People Advisory Group report and recommendations, to Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce.

BASW will continue to support social workers to advocate for and uphold human rights for people to live in the place they call home with the people they love.

Recent work includes BASW England’s production of the capabilities statements with people with learning disabilities and autistic adults to support good social work in this area.

Also, BASW England is leading on Homes not Hospitals work which supports and promotes national campaigning activity of the same name and that undertaken by Right2Home.

Meetings have taken place with key partners from across the sector including people with lived experience, families and carers.  Sub-groups are taking this work forward with the development of resources, webinars and policy statements.  Sign up from strategic partners will be sought.

If any members want to be involved with BASW’s work in supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and developing knowledge of practitioners working in these fields, they can find out more by contacting and by checking our events page