Observations On the Contrary

Learning from Winterbourne View

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f433 (Published 24 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f433
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}bmj.com

Hospitals like it may be closing, but their lessons remain relevant

To mark her presidency of the BMA, Sheila Hollins, emeritus professor of the psychiatry of disability at St George’s, University of London, has organised a series of seminars on the problems faced by vulnerable groups in obtaining appropriate healthcare. Adults with challenging behaviour were the first group to be discussed, at a meeting that took place just before publication of the government’s final report into care at the Winterbourne View Hospital.1

Eighteen months earlier the BBC had broadcast a television programme made undercover at the private hospital.2 As a result of the Panorama programme, six care workers at the hospital were jailed for “cruel, callous, and degrading” abuse of disabled patients; five more received suspended sentences. The judge condemned Castlebeck Care, the hospital’s owner, for running the hospital “with a view to profit and with a scandalous lack of regard to the interests of its residents and staff.”3

At first sight Winterbourne looked like a throwback to the private lunatic asylums of the Victorian …

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