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Hospital suspends staff following BBC Panorama investigation


The operator of a residential hospital has apologised and suspended 13 staff members following allegations that carers routinely abused vulnerable adults with learning difficulties.

Police have also launched a probe and arrested four people after undercover footage of the apparent misconduct at Winterbourne View, in Bristol, was recorded by investigators from BBC’s Panorama programme.

The hospital’s operator Castlebeck said it was “distressed” and “shocked” by the accusations that workers physically and verbally abused residents on a daily basis.

The secret recordings, filmed between February and March this year, appear to show carers punching and slapping vulnerable adults, dousing them in cold water, and pinning them to the ground with chairs.

Thirteen members of staff including two managers have been suspended and three men and one woman had been arrested by Avon and Somerset police, according to the BBC.

All patients have been moved to safety.

Clinical psychologist Andrew McDonnell said he was shocked by the footage and labelled some of the examples captured on film as “torture”.

He told the programme that basic techniques for dealing with patients with challenging behaviour were ignored.

Company officials said they had not seen the footage ahead of last night’s programme, but were made aware about its contents on May 12.

“Castlebeck immediately notified the police, Care Quality Commission (CQC), the local Safeguarding team, commissioners of the service, other relevant authorities, and the families of the patients named in the allegations,” said a statement released by the firm.

“Staff alleged to have behaved inappropriately were suspended and reported to the police, who are now investigating.”

The company confirmed a former nurse had made a complaint about the quality of care to hospital managers in October last year.

However, it said its whistle-blowing policy was not followed correctly and due to “delays” in the process neither the chief executive or board members were made aware of it.

The former employee also contacted the CQC, which regulates the social care industry, but the complaint was not taken up.

Lee Reed, Castlebeck’s chief executive officer, said: “I was shocked, disgusted and ashamed by what I saw on Panorama.

“Having spent my entire career in health and social care, I intend to leave no stone unturned to ensure that this type of horrific event is never allowed to happen again.”

The company said it is now in “active consultation” with the appropriate authorities with regard to the future of privately-run Winterbourne View, which cares for up to 24 patients, employs around 50 members of staff and is funded by taxpayers.

It is also reviewing the records of all of their 580 patients and launched an internal investigation into its whistle-blower procedures.

An independent review of the company, that will focus in its culture, medical protocols and communications systems, has also been commissioned by directors.





Readers' comments (51)

  • I have just watched the panaroma programme on the the iplayer as I didn't feel I could watch it with young children in the room. I feel sick and disgusted by the images I have seen. What the hell is going on with the employers. I don't know what to say really as I am still so shocked by the programme. As a second year student nurse I know that it is hard to make complaints about staff who are not following all the rules, but who are ultimately acting in the best interests of the patients. But to stand by and watch this treatment of vulnerable adults, in my view, makes all the staff accountable for the abuse.

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  • I wept when I watched this. Every reason why HCA's should be regulated!

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  • I totally agree, it is about time that everyone involved in caring for people should be regulated.

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  • seconded

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  • I have worked in adult social care for 10 years, specialising in early onset dementia. I was angry that this should be allowed to continue and none of the other staff felt able to report what they saw. Why was there a gap from when the abuse was filmed until now when the abusers were arrested, were they allowed to remain in post while the BBC edited their footage ready for the programme. and why did the BBC not do anything beofre the 5 weeks of their undercover operation was over.

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  • welcome to private healthcare
    rip the nhs!!!

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  • Read a lot on different sites since i watched it, we all hope they are jailed, esp. that wayne fella, they behaved like animals and i do hope they get what they deserve.

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  • This programme comes hot on the heels of last weeks reports of neglect of the elderly in hospitals. However these are dressed up both are examples of abuse, either direct or indirect and are probably the tip of the iceberg. A culture needs to be created whereby nurses and carers can report poor care without fear of reprisals. Perhaps disciplinary action should be taken against not just the perpetrators of neglect and abuse but against those who just stand by and let it happen.

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  • I've always have said the HCA's need to be regulated.....and I hope this will spark a need for stricter restrictions and regulations regarding HCA. Of course not all HCA's are like this but we need to protect the vunrable patients and also the good workers who do their best for patients and protect them from the small minority who give's HCA a bad reputation.

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  • What shocked me was how the qualifed staff reacted, leaving the HCA's to practially run the unit with a gang mob mentality. Utter disgusting and shows what is actually happening within our health care system. I predict we will see an increase in this barbaric behaviour due to short staffing and poor pay as people become disillusioned and more frustated they will turn on the patients. I'm not saying this will happen to everyone but I get a feeling this is not an isolated case.

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