RCN withdraws Castlebeck sponsorship of learning disability award

Yesterday I and others blogged and tweeted about how a Royal College of Nursing award for learning disability nurses was being sponsored by Castlebeck, the company responsible for the Winterbourne View abuse scandal.

Today, the RCN announced that Castlebeck’s involvement has been withdrawn.

Castlebeck, the company that owns Winterbourne View hospital, will no longer be a sponsor of RCN Publishing’s 2013 Learning Disability Nursing Award.

RCN Publishing took the decision to accept sponsorship from Castlebeck last month based on the substantial developments within the company since the first Panorama television programme was shown 16 months ago.

However, the very strong reaction from many learning disability nurses across the country has led to RCN Publishing withdrawing from the sponsorship arrangement. 

In a statement, the Royal College of Nursing said: “The RCN supports the decision of RCN Publishing to withdraw from its sponsorship arrangement with Castlebeck, due to the strong feelings of some members, including the whistleblower Terry Bryan, given the serious crimes committed against vulnerable residents at Winterbourne View.”

While RCN Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of the RCN, it is editorially independent.

In all fairness to Castlebeck, it appears that it’s been working hard to transform itself, sacking incompetent managers and bringing in proper clinicians. Even so, I don’t think the RCN should giving the company any leg-ups in trying to restore their reputation. They need to do that themselves.

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Winterbourne View owners sponsor learning disability nursing award. Satire dies.

The abuse of people with learning disabilities that took place at Winterbourne View “care” home was utterly horrific. Castlebeck, the company that owned the home, took £3500 per person per week from the taxpayer for mostly unqualified staff to abuse and assault its residents.

I have to thank Mark Neary for spotting this. He noticed exactly what Castlebeck are doing with their dirty money, and who’s taken it. The Nursing Standard, the weekly magazine of the Royal College of Nursing, has announced its Nurse of the Year Award. Scroll through the categories, until you get to the Learning Disability Nursing Award. This is “for nurses working within the field of learning disability who can clearly demonstrate that their initiative has improved the health, well-being and social inclusion of people with a learning disability.”

And who’s sponsoring the award? Unbelievably, it’s Castlebeck. While I’m hardly surprised that this sordid company wants to try to mend its shredded reputation by associating itself with such an award, I’m utterly shocked that the RCN would accept their tainted gold.

Remember that when Castlebeck trousered public money to take in these deeply vulnerable people, they didn’t provide the Winterbourne View residents with psychology input, or an occupational therapist. They didn’t even have that many learning disabilty nurses. The overwhelming majority of the staff were unqualified support workers. Tragically, some of them turned out to be the sort of thugs that I wouldn’t trust to look after my cat.

I’m not entirely surprised by the RCN. They’ve always had a bit of a reputation for shameless establishment schmoozing. It’s for that reason that several years ago I switched my union membership from the RCN to Unite. Even so, this is an appalling decision on their part. I don’t know how they keep a straight face and a clear conscience from doing so.