Secret files are left to rot

The former Croft Care Home in Bickershaw
The former Croft Care Home in Bickershaw

CONFIDENTIAL patient details have been left for all to see after looters plundered a former Wigan old folks home.

Watchdogs today said that the owner of the now abandoned Croft Care Home in Bickershaw must ultimately take responsibility for the personal documents, which contain ex-residents’ personal details, including their toiletry needs.

It was a concerned passer-by who spotted the papers, scattered on the ground at the back of the Bickershaw Lane premises, and noted their sensitive content.

Vandals had broken the lock of the gate, meaning the area was accessible to any member of the public.

The home closed in January because it was no longer viable to keep it open, due to falling numbers, and its remaining six residents re-accommodated.

Since then, the premises have come under attack from both vandals and thieves, the latter stealing more than £3,500-worth of copper.

The passer-by, who did not wish to be named, said: “There has been a lot of vandalism over the last few weeks.

“This time lots of paper was left lying around, detailing toilet habits and what residents have had to eat.

“There are probably around 500 A4 sheets of paper there. I just don’t understand why papers of that nature are still around.

“Vandals have come in through the roof and ripped radiators off the wall and done all sorts.”

According to police records, there has only been one report of a break-in on February 8.

The owner, who is said to be living in Thailand, hired Link Security North West to guard the property around four months ago, but the firm is no longer under contract with him.

A spokesman for the security firm said: “We have contacted the owner numerous times, but have never been able to get hold of him.”

A spokesman for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that it was the care provider’s responsibility to make sure that all records - electronic and paper - were kept secure and properly destroyed and they had been led to believe that this has been done in The Croft’s case.

The CQC said it would now look into the matter and work with Wigan Council to confiscate the documents.

The spokesman confirmed that the home closed on January 27 due to dwindling numbers and that it had worked with the council to relocate all six residents to an alternative shelter.

Wigan Council’s director of people’s services, Nick Hudson, said: “Wigan Council is aware of this issue and we are happy to assist the Care Quality Commission and/or the Information Commissioner’s Office in any subsequent investigation.”

The Evening Post tried but was unable to make contact with the owner.