Whorlton Hall hospital scandal must be ended by Health Secretary


Norman Lamb MP, a former Health Minister, has called for the Secretary of State to personally commit to ending the ongoing scandal at Whorlton Hall hospital as uncovered by Panorama. 

The abuse and mistreatment of vulnerable adults at a specialist hospital has been uncovered by the BBC's Panorama programme.

Undercover BBC filming shows staff intimidating, mocking and restraining patients with learning disabilities and autism at Whorlton Hall, County Durham.

A police investigation has been launched and 16 staff suspended.

On Thursday morning, 23rd May, Norman Lamb tabled an Urgent Question in Parliament to: "ask the Minister if she will make a statement on the treatment of people with learning disabilities and complex needs at Whorlton Hall."

In response, the Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, stated that:

"... The allegations of abuse at Whorlton Hall were shared with my Department, NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and the provider ahead of the programme airing yesterday. Immediate steps were taken to ensure the safety of patients, including ensuring that safe staffing levels were maintained following the suspension of a significant number of staff by the provider. A Whorlton Hall incident co-ordination group was established, involving NHS England; NHS Improvement; Cygnet, as the owner; the CQC’s regional head of inspection; the local clinical commissioning group; and the local authority.

Durham constabulary opened a criminal investigation earlier this month, and the CQC and NHS England are supporting its enquiries. While that investigation is ongoing, I cannot comment on the specific incidents or individuals depicted, as Members will understand. The evidence presented, including but not limited to the “Panorama” footage, must be thoroughly examined, and where those investigations find that allegations of abuse are substantiated, action will be taken ..."

Norman Lamb also asked whether the Government will take action to end the endemic use of restraint—including face-down restraint against adults and children—five years after he issued guidance to that end. 

Norman Lamb MP said: 

"I applaud Panorama for uncovering a disgusting culture at Whorlton Hall. This abuse of people with Learning Disability and Autism is profoundly disturbing. There must be severe consequences for those who are guilty of this behaviour but also for the company who allowed this to happen. There can be no place for providers who allow this to happen. What was uncovered was not a one-off incident, which would be bad enough, but a whole rotten culture. 

The bottom line is that far too many people with LD and autism still end up inappropriately in these institutions when they are capable of living in the community with support. This is a shameful abuse of their human rights. They continue to be treated as second class citizens. 

Incredibly, the Transforming Care programme, intended to get people out of institutions, ended in March and we are still waiting for a replacement programme. 

I call on the Secretary of State to personally commit to ending this ongoing scandal and for the Government to commit significant additional resources to building community support to enable people to live better lives out of these institutions."


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