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Acting on the lessons of Winterbourne View Hospital

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 09 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f18
  1. Margaret Flynn, chair 1,
  2. Sheila Hollins, president, BMA2
  1. 1Lancashire County Coucil’s Safeguarding Adults Board, County Hall, Preston, UK
  2. 2BMA, London WC1H 9JP, UK
  1. president{at}

Because we’d failed them by our disregard

Panorama’s broadcast of Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed during May 2011 made “real” the abusive treatment of patients with intellectual disabilities and adults with autism at a private hospital owned by Castlebeck Care (Teesdale) Ltd, which had become their “home.” The BBC’s undercover reporting enabled millions to watch the degradation and distress of patients as nurses and support workers exercised merciless power. Viewers witnessed the cruelties endured by patients and heard the shallow rationales of support workers and nurses as they encouraged each other to use considerable force. They covered patients’ heads, laid across patients’ chests, put their arms across patients’ throats, and generally immobilised patients with bodily weight and objects.

The Department of Health in England’s final report on the Winterbourne View scandal was recently published.1 It recommended rapidly reducing the number of people with challenging behaviour in hospitals or in large scale residential care, particularly those away from their home area. It also recommended improving strategies to deliver integrated care so that individuals could stay at home or close to their homes.

The serious case review commissioned by South Gloucestershire’s Safeguarding Adults Board was published after the trial of 11 support workers and nurses. …

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