Winterbourne View Hospital was a 24-bed hospital that was registered to provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for people with learning disabilities and autism. Unfortunately, instead of protecting patients form any abuse, staff was proven to mistreat and abuse the service users.
These events first came to light in May 2011. Prompted by concerns raised by a former staff member, a journalist working for the BBC managed to get a job in that hospital. Using a hidden camera, he documented acts of bullying, physical and mental abuse. During five weeks he captured patients being pinned down, slapped, dragged into showers while fully clothed, taunted and teased. Right after publishing the material, 13 employees were suspended and patients moved to other homes. The programme was so shocking that has quickly become a public concern.
CQC chairman Dame Jo Williams admitted the failure to follow up the complaints from a former nurse at the home. She said that a former member of staff contacted CQC on two or three occasions, but no action was taken and that she is absolutely determined that they must do better.
South Gloucestershire Council said that it takes all allegations of abuse very seriously and as soon as the Safeguarding Adults Board was informed about it, appropriate action was taken in line with procedures and protocols.
The police did not follow up the incidents either. Although 29 incidents were reported, 8 of which concerned staff using physical restraint on patients, no action had been taken by the police.
High rate of admission of patients to A&E had not been investigated either, although some of them were the results of restraining procedures in a hospital.
As a result, two nurses and nine support workers who admitted abusing patients were sentenced, with some jailed for up to two years. They were all placed on the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s list of people barred from working with vulnerable adults or children.
The footage started a big discussion among the public. People were shocked by the material. They could see the failure of the system that should protect patients and they lost the trust in authorities. However, people become more aware of the situations that may occur in care and the importance of whistleblowing. Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said they had received 260 reports from families concerning abuse and neglect in institutional care since the Panorama programme was broadcast what may prevent mistreatment in other care services.
On the 10th of December 2012, the government published its final report about Winterbourne View Hospital and has set out a programme of action to ensure that patients of such hospitals are cared in line with best practice and are not placed in hospitals unnecessarily. The programme of action includes: • by spring 2013, the department will set out proposals to strengthen accountability of boards of directors and senior managers for the safety and quality of care which their organisations provide • by June 2013, all current placements will be reviewed, everyone placed in hospital inappropriately will move to community-based support as quickly as possible, and no later than June 2014
• by April 2014, each area will have a joint plan to ensure high quality care and support services for all people with learning disabilities or autism and mental health conditions or behaviour described as challenging, in line with best practice • as a consequence, there will be a dramatic reduction in hospital placements for this group of people • the Care Quality Commission will strengthen inspections and regulation of hospitals and care homes for this group of people, including unannounced inspections involving people who use services and their families • a new NHS and local government-led joint improvement team will be created to lead and support this transformation
The government will publish a progress report on these actions by December 2013.