Skip to content

New Care Safety Fears For Former Winterbourne View Patients

October 29, 2012

Many patients who were poorly treated at a private hospital which closed down after a BBC Panorama investigation have had new fears raised over their safety.

Last week six support workers were jailed for abusing vulnerable patients at Winterbourne View, near Bristol.

NHS figures show safeguarding alerts have been issued for at least 19 of its 51 former patients since they were moved to other care homes.

The government said “lessons must be learnt from Winterbourne View”.

Of the patients that have been issued with safeguarding alerts, at least one has been assaulted and one criminal inquiry is under way.

However, not all of the alerts mean that someone was harmed.

Campaigners told Panorama they feared vulnerable adults were being warehoused in a system that was not offering them the support they need.

Shivering and shaking

Using an undercover reporter in the spring of 2011, Panorama secretly filmed support workers slapping patients, pinning them under chairs and giving them cold punishment showers at Winterbourne View.

Last week at Bristol Crown Court, 11 people were sentenced for the ill-treatment and neglect of patients at the hospital.

Six were jailed, including ringleader Wayne Rogers, 32, who admitted nine counts of ill-treating patients, and was jailed for two years.

Simone Blake, then just 18, faced some of the most disturbing abuse at Winterbourne View, including being drenched in water and left shivering and shaking on the freezing ground outside.

Simone was moved to an NHS hospital – Postern House in Wiltshire – as soon as the abuse allegations were revealed.

Postern House was just forty minutes’ drive from Simone’s parents, allowing them to visit her several times a week.

In June of this year her parents received a letter from Ridgeway Partnership, the health trust that runs Postern House, telling them that she was the subject of a safeguarding alert and that four members of staff had been suspended.

Her mother, Lorna Blake, said: “We were not told what they had done wrong… even though this is not the same as Winterbourne View, she has still gone through a wrong – whether it is a wrong restraint or whatever, it is still wrong.”

Ridgeway Partnership, which runs Postern House, accepts the family should have been told more about the investigation. Wiltshire council says it has no reason to doubt that Postern House provides good care. Both Wiltshire Council and Ridgeway Partnership say the incident can’t be compared to Winterbourne View.

Simone has now been moved to another hospital 200 miles away; her fourth in two years. The eight-hour round trip is too long a journey for her parents to make.

“We can’t see her and we used to visit three times a week… it’s not very nice to not see your child,” Mrs Blake said.

Research for the “Count me in” survey in 2010, which falls under the auspices of the Care Quality Commission, found that in England and Wales one in 20 patients with learning disabilities in hospital said they had been assaulted at least 10 times in the previous three months.

‘Dumping ground’

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “Lessons must be learnt from Winterbourne View and any abuse must be investigated and perpetrators punished.”

Mr Lamb said the government wanted to reinforce “to local areas that they must take responsibility and eradicate mistreatment of any kind”.

“I have been clear that those who lead organisations where people suffer abuse or neglect should be held accountable.

“In most cases people do not need to be in long stay institutions and we want the role of these organisations to be looked at closely.”

He added: “We will very soon be publishing our final recommendations for what more can be done to prevent abuse and to protect those in vulnerable situations.”

The chief executive of the learning disabilities charity Mencap, Mark Goldring, said cases like Simone’s highlight a system that has resorted to warehousing difficult patients with challenging behaviour.

“What allowed Winterbourne View and places like it to flourish was that those places were effectively being used…as a dumping ground by public bodies who had not planned ahead.”

National guidance on people with learning disabilities calls for them to be cared for in their communities, but the Department of Health (DoH) has estimated in England 1,500 people with challenging behaviour are currently in hospitals.

Margaret Flynn examined what went wrong at Winterbourne View in the most exhaustive report, the Serious Case Review.

She said that needs to change: “If nothing else results from the scandal of Winterbourne View Hospital I very much hope that it is scrutiny of a practice that moves people around as though they are pawns. We can and should be doing something so much better.”

Panorama: The Hospital that Stopped Caring, BBC One, Monday 29 October at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 10:02 am

    wouldn’t you have thought these patients would have been treated with kid gloves after what they have been through. Disgusting.

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: