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Care home secrecy slammed

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 October 2010

POLITICIANS have hit out over secrecy surrounding an Essex care home which was shut down amid abuse allegations.

They have slammed a decision to bar the public from a meeting next week where lessons learned from the saga at Greenways Care Home, Colchester, will be discussed.

It was closed in 2008 after Essex County Council received five allegations of abuse of residents and a whistle-blowing letter from a staff member.

Colchester Borough Council’s (CBC) scrutiny committee will review what went wrong at a meeting on Tuesday, October 12.

But a spokeswoman for the authority confirmed the public - at the request of Essex Safeguarding Adults Board (ESAB) - will not be able to stay to hear the review.

Councillor Julie Young, of CBC, said: “It should be held in public because I have had a number of relatives contact me saying they are still waiting for answers.

“But the people from ESAB refuse to attend the meeting unless it’s being held in private.

“There’s never been any accountability about this.”

Councillor Paul Smith, of CBC, said: “I am very surprised that it’s being heard behind closed doors and I’m very concerned about the secrecy that has surrounded this case.”

He added it was also worrying that ESAB’s full report into the care home had never been published.

A spokeswoman for CBC said the public were being prevented from attending to protect ‘certain personal information’.

Paul Bedwell, business manager of ESAB, said: “The effectiveness and value of serious case reviews relies upon the ability of the participating agencies to speak freely and frankly without the inability or inhibition to have such free and frank exchange of advice, views and information.

“Information included within a serious case review overview report is provided in an expectation of confidentiality and as such may give rise to action against the board should this confidentiality be breached.

“The aim of serious case reviews is to ascertain the facts, analyse them and identify any lessons that need to be learned.”

Councillor Young added: “If wrong has been done the public have a right to know what’s going on. The people we should protect is the people in care homes, not the staff.”

The care home, in St Fillan Road, was closed in October 2008 and demolished last December. Work has now begun on a new £5million care home, which will have 69 en-suite bedrooms.

The public can speak at the beginning of the October 12 meeting, which is being held at 6pm at Colchester Town Hall. But they will be excluded for the discussion on Greenways Care Home.

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