The health and social care regulatory authority was heavily criticized for issuing only a fixed penalty notification to a charity that ran a nursing home where people with autism were taunted, bullied and humiliate.
Barbara Keeley, the shadow minister for mental health and social care, wrote to the Commission for Quality Assurance (CQC) to express deep concern that she fined the National Autistic Society (NAS) £ 4,000.
Keeley said that the families of autistic people were horrified because the NAS had escaped a fine rather than a serious failure to Mendip House in Somerset and intended to raise the issue with the government.
Workers at home threw objects at residents and teased and swore at them, a report they found last year. An informant claimed that a resident was slapped, forced to eat chillies and repeatedly thrown into a pool.
In another episode highlighted in the report, it is said that a staff member put a tape around a resident's neck and rode it "like a horse".
A review by the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board (SSAB) said the parallels were designed for the case of Winterbourne View, a private hospital near Bristol where people with severe learning difficulties were abused.
The Mendip House was closed and the inhabitants, some of whom had lived there for many years, found new places. The staff was disciplined and the police investigated but nobody was accused. The officers said that there was not enough evidence to do so and they handed the matter to the CQC.
The Guardian revealed last week that the CQC had dealt with the NAS with a fixed penalty. This concerned one aspect of the defects, which the residents had financed the meals of the staff during the exits.
Keeley said on Sunday: "People are very angry and worried about this.People with autistic children are horrified and there was no trial." In your letter to the CQC you described it as "a serious case high profile "and said:" The National Autistic Society has an income of over 50 million pounds in relation to social care services.Your fine represents 0.1% of this income, equivalent to only one or two weeks of taxes for one of the individuals previously residing in Mendip House.
"Given the scale of the problem found in Mendip House, many stakeholders believe that a fine of this size does not recognize the reality of the situation."
Richard Humphries, senior fellow for social welfare policy at the King's Fund thinktank, tweeted: "Reducing abuse to the status of a parking ticket and wondering why social care has an image problem."
Another Twitter user called the decision a disgrace in exchange for the CQC:
The CQC, however, also has the power to prosecute, as was later acknowledged by its interim CEO, Debbie Westhead.
He said: "We also studied if we could pursue the National Autistic Society for not keeping people safe, but we were not able to do it because of insufficient evidence.The descriptions of the abuses at the Mendip House are extremely painful and the decision final not to proceed with the accusation was complex and difficult.
"Separately, the police explored the possibility of criminal proceedings against individuals but was unable to proceed due to the lack of corroborating evidence.The action we were able to take was a fixed penalty against the supplier for not protecting people from financial abuse, resulting in a fine of £ 4,000, which is the maximum amount allowed by law. "
Mark Lever, the NAS CEO, has apologized for what happened to Mendip House. He said: "We took immediate action to make sure people were safe, we closed the service in November 2016 and we have made major changes to ensure that this does not happen again."