Wednesday 4 April 2012

Abuse of vulnerable adults - more spin

Two weeks ago S4C aired a programme in the current run of Taro 9 which looked at the scandal involving abuse of adults with learning difficulties in a council-run day centre at Johnstown near Carmarthen. The abuse came to light thanks to the bravery of Delyth Jenkins, who fought long and hard to get the county council to act.

Delyth no longer works for Carmarthenshire County Council, but just about everyone else involved in the scandal does.

Shortly after the programme was broadcast, Delyth wrote to the Carmarthen Journal to thank everyone for the messages of support she had received.  There must have been a lot of more important letters that week, because the newspaper was unable to find space for Delyth.

Fortunately, space was found in this week's paper. Here then is Delyth's letter:

Thank you for your support

I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support following my appearance on S4C's Taro Naw recently.
I will continue to speak up for the vulnerable, especially those who cannot speak up for themselves.
I will also continue to speak out about this case until Carmarthenshire County Council holds to account the Managers who failed so miserably as evidenced in the Public Services Ombudsman For Wales Report of September 2009.
Delyth Jenkins

By what was no doubt pure coincidence, the Journal also managed to squeeze in a very long and rather technical piece on the annual report of the CSSIW (Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales) on the council's adult care services.You can read the article here.

The CSSIW report was published on 31 October 2011, and was discussed at a meeting of the full council in February of this year. You can read a report of that meeting in a previous post, here.

Perhaps the Journal has a bit of a news backlog.

The County Council was furious at the BBC's decision to make the programme, and refused to cooperate. The CSSIW report, on the other hand, was music to the council's ears, as it talks of progress and improvement.

The decision to run the old CSSIW story at the same time as the (delayed) publication of Delyth's letter looks very odd, especially when set against the recent history of relations between the council and the press.

The whole point of the programme, and Delyth Jenkins' reason for taking part, was not to rake up an old story to cause trouble for the council, but to highlight how little has changed in key aspects of the council's organisation, and the need for a public inquiry.

Contrary to what the council would like people to believe, this issue is not ancient history, and the council itself has only recently completed its investigations and internal procedures relating to the case. Moreover, Mrs Jenkins pointed out that just about all of the people involved in the case are still employed by the council. Some should almost certainly have been the subject of a criminal investigation.

Whether we are talking about public or private sector organisations, it is invariably the case that the culture of any corporate body is determined by the people at the top. The facts are that these individuals failed to act; turned their anger on a brave woman who was trying to stop the abuse; tried to brush the whole matter under the carpet by ensuring the ombudsman's report was not openly discussed; and then tried to blame the press for the council's own ineptitude as it attempted to spin the story.

The case for a public inquiry is a compelling one, as there can be little confidence that the council's secretive and PR obsessed senior management has learned the right lessons from this dreadful episode.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CSSIW, WAO and Estyn are very good at picking up minor insignificant issues to justify their existence but not so good at identifying serious shortcomings with Pembrokeshire LEA being a case in point. The inspection regimes won't want to rock the boat in Sir Gar because the Council Leader Meryl Gravell is the Lead Spokesperson for the WLGA on Social Services and as such is best mates with her neighbouring AM the Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas.
Anyone who thinks that the WAO, Estyn and CSSIW don't have a political mandate when they carry out inspections are very naive.
A public enquiry it should be and Lindsey Whittle should be asking questions on this in plenery.