Scandal hit Darlington-based care home provider, Castlebeck, goes into administration (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Patients "the number one priority" say administrators
THE Darlington-based care home provider at the centre of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal has gone into administration.
Castlebeck Care Limited provides welfare for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems and operates 20 units across England and Scotland with a total of 214 patients and residents.
Tonight (March 5), administrators, Grant Thornton, sought to reassure relatives with family members under Castlebeck's care that their welfare remained the company's number one priority.
That came as one of those facilities, Briar Court in Hartlepool, was the scene of a "serious safeguarding incident" last week.
The Northern Echo learned this afternoon that the home was being investigated by Hartlepool Borough Council over claims relating to a number of vulnerable adults living there.
Last year, 11 members of staff at Winterbourne View, in Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, were sentenced for their roles in the "gross breach of trust and power" against those in their care after an undercover expose by the BBC Panorama programme.
The judge at Bristol Crown Court jailed six of the workers, including two nurses, immediately, with the five others receiving suspended prison terms.
As a result, Castlebeck, based at Chesnut (CORR) Street, Darlington, instituted a root and branch internal review of its operations and sacked or suspended more than a dozen members of staff in the region. It also ploughed a reported £8m into refurbishing and re-equipping its facilities.
The company had considered selling up, but because the entire business was unlikely to be bought by a single buyer, at least in the short term, the administrators were called in.
A spokesman for Grant Thornton said: "Whilst the Board has focused on quality care provision and restoring confidence in the Castlebeck operations, the impact of two further unit closures in 2011 and reducing occupancy has significantly diluted Castlebeck's subsequent trading capabilities."
The spokesman said local authorities and families would be kept up to date and added that "all 214 patients and residents will continue to receive the highest level of medical, nursing and clinical care from Castlebeck's own team of doctors, clinicians, nurses and carers".
He added: "As units are sold there is absolutely no reason why people should not continue to be looked after in the same place and by the same people that they have always been used to.
"It should be a smooth process. Nothing is going to happen overnight, there are going to be no shocks to the system."
Hartlepool Council tonight confirmed its Adult Safeguarding team was carrying out an investigation into the allegations surrounding Briar Court.
A spokesman said: "Whilst we cannot confirm the nature of the allegations at this time, they relate to a number of vulnerable adults placed at Briar Court which is run by Castlebeck Care.
"Castlebeck Care is being co-operative and will be asked to develop a robust protection plan as part of the safeguarding process."
Castlebeck itself said it and its staff were "committed to the safety and well-being of everyone cared for at the home."
The administrators said they could not say whether the Winterbourne View scandal would make the company less attractive to potential suitors.
However, he said: "A number of prospective purchasers have already shown their interest in acquiring the individual Castlebeck operating units, which will continue to operate and trade normally whilst such sales are progressed, and new owners for the operating units emerge."