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BASW response to the tragic deaths at Cawston Park Hospital

We are shocked and saddened by the findings of a report into the deaths of Joanna, Jon and Ben

BASW are shocked and saddened by the findings of the Independent Review report into the tragic circumstances that took place at Cawston Park Hospital which distressingly mirror the neglectful and abusive services that people and families experienced at Winterbourne View Hospital, and more recently at Whorlton Hall in Durham.

We extend our condolences to the families of Joanna, Jon and Ben who will have expected so much more for their loved ones entrusted to be in the care of Cawston Park Hospital.

With the 10-year anniversary of the neglect and abuse we saw at Winterbourne View just passing it is unforgivable to find that the care and treatment of autistic people and people with learning disabilities fell dismally short of what is needed, to the extent that people have lost their lives.

BASW fully endorses the recommendations of the Independent Review and in particular the call for urgent change that is rooted in the ethic that everyone deserves - and should be supported to have - a life of dignity and respect.

BASW has a longstanding commitment to campaigning with people with lived experience to uphold the human rights and dignity of people who are autistic and/or have learning disabilities.

Enough is still not being done to support autistic people, people with learning disabilities and their families. BASW continues to campaign at a nation level for the changes that are needed to endure that people in need of support receive care that is properly funded and resourced in the community.

As our Homes not Hospitals campaign demands, we need to see preventative and joined up approaches in terms of commissioning, human rights-based practice, the role of social work and legal literacy to reduce the risk of situations from reaching the point of hospital admission.

We advocate for homes not hospitals and maintain that the use of restraint or isolation should always be seen as a failure of the system and care. Too many people end up stuck because of failures the system.

BASW Chair Gerry Nosowska says: ‘We will not stop working to uphold the human rights of people who remain forgotten and uncared for. Everyone deserves a life of dignity and respect. We have the resources in this country to ensure this, and every member of our society should be outraged and demand better.

We will continue to campaign and challenge and share our tools and resources to strengthen human rights based social work practice across the sector. 

BASW England will comment further when we know more about the incidents that took place at Cawston Park Hospital.