A fresh call has been made for an inquiry into deaths at a Sussex care home - along with stern criticism over a new county initiative on failings in social care.
Relatives of 19 people who died at Orchid View care home in Copthorne made renewed calls for a public inquiry at a meeting with West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith and West Sussex MPs on Friday.
The county council, which is responsible for ‘safeguarding’ everyone throughout the county, outlined its initiative - dubbed ‘Enough Is Enough, It’s Time To Care’ - to the MPs.
But criticism has been levelled at the initiative which comes amid an ongoing police probe into nine care homes, all run by the same company - Sussex Health Care - in and around Horsham following the deaths of 12 people.
Relatives of two men who suffered serious injuries while they were living at one of the care homes have hit out at the initiative as too little, too late and a ‘damage limitation exercise.’
And relatives of 19 people who died at Orchid View care home in Copthorne, near Crawley - some of whom attended Friday’s meeting - are now calling for a new public inquiry into what happened there seven years ago.
County council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “Our whole aim is to get care raised at a national level and to see changes made to the sector so we stop seeing repeated headlines about failings in care.
“We will continue to push for changes and for the issue to be raised nationally. Enough is enough - it’s time to care.”
But the initiative comes seven years after the closure of Orchid View care home where 19 people died, some of whom were found to have suffered neglect.
And it comes nearly three years after Gary Lewis, 65, and Matthew Bates, 33, suffered broken legs, in separate incidents within hours of each other, at Beech Lodge care home in Guildford Road, Horsham.
Gary’s brother Martyn Lewis and Matthew’s dad Mark Bates have since vowed not to give up on finding answers as to how the injuries happened. Both Gary and Matthew have cerebral palsy and neither has been able to walk or talk since birth and require constant care.
The council ‘time to care’ initiative also comes during the current police investigation into the deaths of 12 people at nine care homes in and around Horsham.
Mark Bates hit out: “When you come out with the words ‘enough is enough’, how many is that? Was it the eighth death, the ninth, the tenth? One is too many. It should be ‘enough was enough’.”
And Martyn Lewis added: “If one death/injury is one too many, why only now in 2018, after Orchid View (19 deaths in 2010), our cases and others in 2015 and the current ongoing police investigation, are things seen to need to change by Louise Goldsmith and her council? If NOW is seen as ‘Time to Care’, what does this say about what has gone before?”
Orchid View, in Copthorne, was run by Southern Cross and closed in 2011. Judith Charatan, whose mother Doris Fielding was among those who died at Orchid View, said: “We don’t think the problems have gone away.
“We felt the council attempted to act on recommendations from the serious case review, but we are still getting incidents at a national and a local level.”
The 12 care homes currently being investigated by police are: Beech Lodge, Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath; Beechcroft Care Centre, East Grinstead; Kingsmead Lodge, Crawley Road, Roffey; Longfield Manor, West Street, Billingshurst; Rapkyns Care Centre, Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath; Rapkyns Nursing Home, Guildford Road, Broadbridge Heath, Woodhurst Lodge, Old Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, Crawley; The Laurels in Broadbridge Heath and Orchard Lodge in Warnham.
Among MPs who attended Friday’s meeting were Horsham MP Jeremy Quin; Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert; Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing; Gillian Keegan, MP for Chichester, and Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham. Also there were members of the Orchid View Relatives Action Group.