HL Deb 26 July 1988 vol 500 cc246-7WA
Lord Colwyn

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a statement about the inquiry into the care and after-care of Miss Sharon Campbell.

Lord Skelmersdale

We received the report of the independent committee of inquiry, chaired by Mr. John Spokes, QC, on 22nd June 1988. It is being published in full today and copies are being placed in the Library.

The Government are very grateful to Mr. Spokes and his colleagues, Dr. Michael Pare and Mr. George Royle, for their work. Their extremely helpful report examines the care provided for a young woman, Miss Sharon Campbell, by health and local authorities between 1980 and 1984. It examines her treatment as a psychiatric in-patient at Bexley Hospital and subsequent out-patient treatment and the care provided by two social services authorities when she was living in the community in Lewisham. It considers also the circumstances in which she killed her former social worker, Miss Isabel Schwarz, and examines the responses to earlier threats and incidents of violence by Miss Campbell. The report draws attention to the dedicated care and treatment given to Miss Campbell by many professional staff. It identifies also a number of shortcomings in co-ordination and liaison; inadequate supervision of staff; and regrettable omissions by some individuals. It is, however, clear from the committee's findings that Miss Campbell received a generally good level of attention from the caring services and that, although her behaviour was unpredictable and, at times, threatening, her action in killing Isabel Schwarz was of a wholly different order to that which characterised earlier violence or threats by her.

The report makes recommendations for the care of mentally disordered people in the community; record-keeping by, and communications between, health and local authorities, professional staff and others; the safety, training and supervision of social workers; and other related matters. Ministers are considering those recommendations which are addressed specifically to the Secretary of State and some others which may call for action or consideration by the department. We shall take action to implement any changes that are necessary.

We expect that the health and local authorities directly concerned in the care of Sharon Campbell will also consider the report's findings with particular care and act upon them as necessary. Officials are in touch with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other professional bodies about a recommendation that they might co-operate in preparing a report on discharge and after-care procedures for mentally ill patients. The report also contains recommendations which will be of value to health and local authorities in their service planning, the delivery of good quality patient and client care, and the safety and security of staff. Copies are being sent today to all health and local authorities in England.