On 22nd May 2019 the BBC TV show Panorama released an episode that showed the abuse of people with learning disabilities in a hospital called Whorlton Hall.
Whorlton Hall was an NHS funded but privately owned hospital in County Durham which was home to 17 adults with learning disabilities and autism.
The BBC sent a reporter undercover to see what was happening at the hospital.
She pretended to be a care worker and filmed what the other carers were doing.
The film shows ‘carers’ abusing patients, for example, by doing things they don’t like on purpose, shouting at them, and restraining them without a good reason.
The film also showed the carers talking about deliberately hurting the people with learning disabilities who lived there.
Some professionals have described it as ‘Psychological torture’.
This means, deliberately causing someone emotional harm but without physically hurting them.
MLMC and our friends are very angry and upset by what the film showed and that abuse is still happening.
The abuse shown in the film was very similar to that shown in another BBC Panorama Programme 8 years ago at a hospital called Winterbourne View.
MLMC Champion Pam said, “It makes me so angry that it is still happening. It seems that people with learning disabilities just don't matter as much as others."
After the Winterbourne View abuse, the Transforming Care Programme was set up to improve care for people with learning disabilities.
We think it is clear that in many parts of the country the Transforming Care Programme is not working as it was meant to.
We are also extremely disappointed with the failings of the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC had assessed Whorlton Hall many times and not noticed the abuse. They had even rated it 'Good'.
People with learning disabilities have the same human rights and feelings as everyone else.
Just because we sometimes need care and support it does not mean we should have to suffer abuse.
We should also not be locked up in hospitals or units that are not suitable.
As MLMC's co-chair of Trustees, Ben, said, “In hospitals like that you are like a prisoner with no control over anything."
“We shouldn’t have to rely on the BBC to reveal these things; we need a thorough investigation by the health service and experts by experience should be regularly checking services to make sure they are good and safe.”
Since the BBC revealed the abuse, 10 people who worked at Whorlton Hall have been arrested.
This is good, but not enough.
We want to see units like Whorlton Hall shut, and people with learning disabilities and autism supported in their communities, close to friends and families.
We also want the criminals involved in the abuse locked up.