Parliamentary probe about serious child abuse in Derbyshire hospital

The Government has confirmed that no decision has yet been taken about a serious case review into allegations of very serious child abuse in Aston Hall hospital, in Derbyshire, across the 1960s and ’70s.

An investigation by the Derby Telegraph newspaper led to 39 former patients, many of them children at the time, going public with their allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, by March 2016. Others are reported to have taken their own life because of the systemic abuse.

Running away to escape family abuse and behavioural difficulties after bereavement were among the reasons children were admitted to the hospital. There are consistent reports from former patients, some as young as 11, that the hospital’s lead doctor, Kenneth Milner, drugged, placed them in a padded cell and sexually assaulted them. Milner worked at the hospital between 1947 and 1975. He died a year later. Before working at Aston Hall, he had been employed at Rampton and Broadmoor secure hospitals.

Yesterday, in response to a parliamentary question from Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, the Department of Health responded:

“We are aware that a number of serious allegations have been raised about abuse that took place at the former Aston Hall Hospital during the 1960s and 1970s. Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the local provider of mental health services, advises that an investigation is currently underway by a partnership of agencies, including health services and the police, co-ordinated through the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children’s Board.

“The timescales for any system-wide Serious Case Review or Learning Review will depend on the outcome of current police enquiries.”

The law requires that a serious case review be established whenever a child has died or been seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected, and there are concerns about the way agencies worked together.

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s safeguarding team can be contacted for support on 01332 623700, extension 31537.