BBC Panorama exposes another shocking case of abuse in private inpatient care for people with learning difficulties

Undercover filming by a reporter for the BBC Panorama Programme has revealed highly offensive attitudes and language about patients amongst Whorlton Hall staff, intimidation and mockery of patients and an unacceptable use of restraint. Read the BBC news story here.

Quite apart from the breach of human rights represented by any patients who were at the Hall involuntarily, it is clearly of huge concern that abuse of people with learning difficulties/disabilities and autism has been occurring yet again. The abuse at Whorlton Hall seems to resemble all too closely the sort of abuse experienced by residents at Winterbourne View. A further point of concern is that although 16 staff have now been suspended and all patients transferred to other services and although a police investigation has now started, the abuse has again been addressed only because of the Panorama programme.

The Care Quality Commission gave Whorlton Hall a good rating in 2017 and, although the Commission, subsequently warned the hospital about staff training, long shifts and an unduly high use of agency staff, Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the Commission, has told Panorama that the abuse was not spotted. This in itself raises a further issue: Barry Stanley-Wilkinson, a former inspector for the Commission, has said that he had put forward concerns about ‘a very poor culture’ at Whorlton Hall in 2015 and thought that his report should have raised ‘warning bells’. 

You can read CQC's full response here.

People First Self Advocacy statement

Yesterday, 29 May, People First Self Advocacy Director Andrew Lee issued a statement about the latest scandal. This followed a letter to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in response to the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review LeDeR Programme report report from People First members. Andrew responded to the Whorlton Hall reports with a press release saying:

‘As with Winterbourne, the news of Whorlton Hall brought tears, upset and anger to me and many other people I know. Our thoughts go to all of the people who experienced this abuse. We need to make sure this does not happen again. Moving people to ‘other’ closed institutions like Whorlton Hall is obviously not the answer. People are being sent far away from friends and family at great cost to the authorities and at even greater and more tragic cost to people with learning difficulties and their loved ones.’

Read the full People First Self Advocacy press release here.