AN early warning system which could have prevented the abuse at Winterbourne View hospital has been launched.

Northgate Public Services, a leading provider of social care software, has produced the system following a series of scandals at care homes and other residential settings, including Winterbourne View in Hambrook.

The BBC’s Panorama programme exposed shocking scenes of abuse and neglect of adult residents with severe learning disabilities at the private hospital owned by Castlegate. Eleven nurses and care staff were charged with more than 40 counts of wilful neglect and abuse and six were subsequently jailed.

The scandal led to numerous investigations by the police, South Gloucestershire Council, the NHS and government.

Northgate has worked closely with South Gloucestershire Council to develop the system specifically designed to help local authorities spot possible safeguarding risks.

Executive director for Northgate, Ian Blackhurst said: “Care homes and other residential settings have faced a series of high profile safeguarding scandals which have clearly damaged public perceptions and trust in the quality of care delivered.

“With our innovation safeguarding risk management will be improved by a structured, secure and collaborative process. Our module links useful data to alert staff to potential concerns or issues regarding a home or an individual, then provides instant access to the detailed information for adults and children’s practitioners and their organisations.”

The Institutional Safeguarding Module allows people to search for someone who is linked to an organisation where there is a current safeguarding episode. The module also raises concerns when there is a search for a person who is linked to an organisation where there is no safeguarding episode but its parent/subsidiary organisation does have a current safeguarding episode.

It replaces manual information in books and spreadsheets.

South Gloucestershire Council’s director for children, adults and health, Peter Murphy, said: “We are looking forward to getting this module in place in the next few months, having worked closely with Northgate on its development. "The Northgate solution takes a holistic view of institutional safeguarding and provides a comprehensive and efficient system to help manage and lower the council's safeguarding risk. It will help us to fulfil our safeguarding obligations and enable us to more quickly spot patterns and also ‘join the dots’ between providers and parent companies.”