We want to repeat our apologies for the appalling abuse and mistreatment faced by people who lived at Mendip House, a care service we closed in November 2016. We should not have allowed this to happen and we have been working hard to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

We know that many of you are concerned to hear that the Care Quality Commission has issued our charity with a Fixed Penalty Notice relating to financial abuse at Mendip House.

Below are two statements from Mark Lever, our chief executive, apologising for what happened at Mendip House and explaining more about the action the CQC has taken - and what this means. You can find more of the background information about what happened at Mendip House, our wider response and the improvements we’ve been making here.

Updated statement: 10 March 2019

Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said: "What happened at Mendip House was appalling. We should not have allowed this mistreatment and abuse to happen. We're deeply sorry that it did and - alongside regulators, local authorities and other agencies - we are responsible for doing all we can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"As the CQC have explained, responsibility for decisions about prosecution rest with them, the police and Crown Prosecution Service. We have cooperated fully with both police and CQC investigations and we have now paid the fixed penalty notice issued by the CQC in relation to their investigation into the financial abuse by staff at Mendip House.

"Our responsibility as the organisation that ran Mendip House is to be as open as possible when things go wrong, to take action to fix this and to continue to listen to autistic people, families and other providers about what we need to do differently. We have tried to do all these things.

"We took immediate action to make sure everyone was safe at Mendip House. Learning from our own and others' investigations, we have since introduced a range of improvements including overhauling recruitment and making sure we pick up quickly when problems may be emerging in our care, and take action.

"We have reached out to the Shadow Care Minister as we have the same objective to make sure everyone in social care is safe and can thrive. We want to share with her all we have learned in working to put right the serious mistakes at Mendip House."

Statement: 7 March 2019

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We want to run the best possible residential services for autistic people, where they are safe and can thrive. We are very sorry that in May 2016 it became clear that we had failed to achieve this for the six people living at our Mendip House care service. We took immediate action to make sure the people there were safe. We closed the service in November 2016 and have introduced important changes to ensure this does not happen again.

“Among the mistreatment uncovered at that time, it was identified that some members of staff had made the people they supported pay for staff meals while on trips out. This was wrong and should not have been allowed to happen. We reimbursed the money in full in June 2016, making sure that none of the people in our care lost out in any way financially.

“The CQC rightly initiated an investigation into this financial abuse in June 2018 and, in January this year, issued our charity with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £4000 because of the failure to comply with regulations which ‘ensure systems and processes must be established and operated effectively to prevent financial abuse of service users’. We have accepted and paid this penalty notice.

“We want to take this opportunity to repeat our apologies to the people who lived at Mendip House and to their families for the distress they experienced. We want to reassure them and the public that we continue to improve and learn from autistic people, family members and other organisations providing care.”