Press release

Nursing home director disqualified for failing to act on whistleblower concerns

Neil Cruickshank, the Managing Director of Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Ltd, has been disqualified for 8 years for failing to follow proper company procedures regarding Quality of Care, after he was sent information from a whistleblower regarding the behaviour of staff at the Winterbourne View Nursing Home, near Bristol.

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The disqualification, from 1 May 2015, prevents Mr Cruickshank from directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company for the duration of the term.

The whistleblowing was in the form of an email, dated 11 October 2010, titled “I’ve had enough”. It was sent by a Charge Nurse at Winterbourne View to the Hospital Manager. The level of detail in the email indicated the seriousness of the concerns and should have been a sufficient alert for the company’s director to act rapidly, robustly and responsibly.

On 22 October 2010, a senior manager sent Mr Cruickshank both this email and further communications, both from the Whistle-blower and internally, which clearly demonstrated that the Whistleblowing Policy was not being adhered to.

Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Ltd failed after this date to launch any internal investigation: The Director of Governance, the psychiatrist for the service and the Group Clinical Director were not informed of any whistle-blowing complaint and there was no mention of it in national Serious Untoward Incident Logs, as per policy and procedure for any Safeguarding alert.

Commenting on the disqualification, Sue MacLeod, Chief Investigator at The Insolvency Service, said:

Company Directors should note from this enforcement result that any failure to follow their own internal policies is likely to lead to serious censure. They should also note the breadth of misconduct which can be considered for proceedings under The Company Directors’ Disqualification Act 1986.

In this particular case, Mr Cruickshank was aware, or should have been aware, of a series of indicators of poor quality of care within Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Ltd, long before these were highlighted by BBC Panorama in Winterbourne View Nursing Home.

The most serious of these was his clear contemporaneous knowledge both of a serious Whistleblowing at Winterbourne View and that it was being mishandled by the senior staff-members who reported to him.

Patients and their families deserved far higher levels of internal governance.

Notes to editors

Mr Cruickshank’s date of birth is 4 August 1958 and he resides in South Lanarkshire.

Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Ltd (CRO No. 02050483) was incorporated on 28 August 1986 and latterly traded from its headquarters in Chestnut Street, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 1QL and 20 locations across the Midlands, North East England and Scotland in the care of patients and residents with mental health, mental illness and learning disabilities. Mr Cruickshank was a director from 24 July 2008 to 31 October 2011. The Company went into Administration on 05 March 2013 with an estimated deficiency of £174,532,237.

On 10 April 2015, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Neil Cruickshank, effective from 1 May 2015, for a period of 8 years. The matters of unfitness, which Mr Cruickshank did not dispute in the Disqualification Undertaking, were that:

While a director of Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Limited (“CCT”), I failed to take adequate action or follow company procedure following information provided by a whistle-blower in October 2010, which contributed to inadequate standards of patient care continuing until at least May 2011.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property

In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.

Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

Published 18 June 2015