Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Press and abuse

There are two items in the current headlines that worry me greatly. One is obviously the additional abuse of people with learning disabilities at a second Castlebeck home near Bristol. This only seems to have come to light because of the gross abuses uncovered by Panorama at the first, now closed home.

I strongly suspect this sort of thing goes on in many locations behind closed doors and have very little confidence in CQC's monitoring regime to pick it up. Their almost complete reliance on checklisting and whistleblowers seems to me a total abdication of responsibility. They seem far more concerned to 'work with the care homes' than to hold them to account.

The other headline that strikes home for me is the invasion of Gordon Browns sons privacy, by the newspapers gathering information on his medical condition and publishing it. We went through a traumatic time ourselves when my son was small and critically ill with the press (mainly national) camped outside our house, pestering us at a time when we were in fear of losing him. This was presented as a sympathetic 'human' story but the way the information was gathered was anything but humane. We had incidents of reporters impersonating doctors in hospital, one case of a photographer putting a ladder up to the intensive care window, and a continual siege where reporters pestered us at the most distressing times, completely uncaring of the impact they were having. Things have got better since then (20/30 years ago) - but it seems more by going underground than actually being more considerate.

It's interesting to look at these two headline stories together. The one that is far and away deemed more important is about mental abuse and privacy rights. The one that disappears among the 'and also ...' stories is about hard physical abuse and personal destruction of dignity. It feels like something may be done about the first, but the response on the second is weak.

They're both wrongdoing, but in my book abuse should be taken more seriously than invasion of privacy.

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