Care home abuse "has not stopped": Winterbourne View investigation continues
Victims of the abuse at the Winterbourne View care home have been mistreated before and even after last year’s revelations, even though the authorities pledged to learn lessons from the scandal.
That is the revelation of another Panorama documentary tonight, which explores what happened to the patients of Winterbourne View who suffered at the hands of those supposed to care for them.
On Friday, six of the ‘carers’ were jailed and five others given suspended sentences after an undercover Panorama reporter secretly filmed the adult patients with learning disabilities being punched, slapped and restrained.The home near Bristol, run by private firm Castlebeck, which charged taxpayers £3,500 per patient per week, has been shut down.
The new BBC programme reveals that of the 48 patients who were at Winterbourne View before it closed, 19 had been the subject of a “safeguarding alert” in other hospitals and units, and focus is now switching to a care home in Wiltshire, to which some of the Winterbourne View patients were sent after the South Gloucestershire site was shut down.
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While not all alerts will mean that patient has been abused, at least one alert arose from a patient being assaulted and in a second case, a criminal investigation is under way.
Panorama’s attention has now turned to Postern House, near Marlborough in Wiltshire, which sent some patients to Winterbourne View, and took others back after it closed.
One, Simon, was at Postern House but was sent to Winterbourne View following allegations of abuse at the Wiltshire home too, the documentary reveals.
His mother, Ann, said: being moved from one locked hospital to another meant that his behaviour deteriorated. “It’s really hard to understand how professional people actually never questioned whether it was something they were doing,” she said. “It was always assumed that it was Simon’s behaviour that was causing the problems.”
During his stay While at Postern House, three allegations of abuse were made about abuse, including inappropriate restraining techniques, – something captured on camera at Winterbourne View – another incident where he was being frogmarched with an arm behind his back and a third incident where a fellow patient actually complained for Simon after witnessing abuse.
On a final occasion, a patients’ advocate asked for an investigation to be launched after Simon showed her told her that he had been hurt and pointed to a cut on his head. The hospital held a meeting to which to discuss the allegation but neither the advocate, Sue Armstrong, nor Simon’s family were invited. Days later he was moved to Winterbourne View.
Both Wiltshire Council and the Ridgeway Partnership NHS Trust, which runs Postern House, said all the incidents involving Simon, and another patient featured on the documentary tonight called Simone, were investigated thoroughly and the hospital cannot be compared to Winterbourne View.
After Winterbourne View closed, Simon went to live back at home but other patients were moved to other hospitals, including Along with Simon, Simone was on the end of some of the who went to Postern House. Both had been on the receiving end of some of the worst treatment to be filmed at Winterbourne View. But whereas Simon went to live at home afterwards, Simone went to Postern House.
She arrived in June last year when Winterbourne View closed and four months ago, her parents said they received a letter telling them that there was a safeguarding alert concerning their daughter which raised concern about “the way Simone was supported by staff when she was upset and agitated”.
Her parents were told nothing more about what happened, apart from the fact that four members of staff had been suspended as a result of the incident. Simone’s notes show that over three hours in the course of one morning, she was restrained in a chair ten times and twice more on the floor.
Simone only remained at Postern House for a few weeks after that, and was moved 200 miles away to another hospital without her parents being told when she was leaving.
Mark Goldring, the chief executive of Mencap, said that the system is warehousing difficult patients, rather than focusing on treating them: “What allowed Winterbourne and places like it to flourish was that those places were effectively being used as a dumping ground by public bodies. who hadn’t planned ahead. When you’re making a large profit you have no incentive to try and help with the discharge of somebody,” he said.”