31 May – BBC Panorama’s Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed The BBC filmed abuse of patients with learning difficulties at Winterbourne View residential hospital in Bristol. During five weeks spent filming undercover, BBC Panorama’s reporter captured footage of some of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients being repeatedly pinned down, slapped, dragged into showers while fully clothed, taunted and teased.
The case has been condemned as “shocking” by the government and Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said he was determined to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable adults. He has already ordered a thorough examination of the roles of the government regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the local authorities. CQC chairman Dame Jo Williams admitted that the failure to follow up the reports of a whistleblower – a senior nurse at the home – had been an “unforgivable error of judgement”. Avon and Somerset police confirmed three men – aged 42, 30 and 25 – and a 24-year-old woman were arrested as part of their investigation into the hospital. The hospital’s owners, Castlebeck, have apologised and suspended 13 employees. It has launched an internal investigation into its whistle-blower procedures and is reviewing the records of all 580 patients in 56 facilities. Winterbourne View can accommodate 24 patients and is taxpayer-funded, charging the state an average of £3,500 per patient per week.
The programme was broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 31 May at 2100 BST and is available to view in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.