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BBC’s Panorama programme has uncovered abuse, including the use of restraints, of vulnerable patients with learning difficulties and autism at Whorlton Hall in Country Durham. The unit is privately run by the firm Cygnet but receives funding from the NHS.
16 staff have already been suspended and a police investigation has been started. The facility has been shut down and care for its 2,300 patients transferred to alternative services.
A BBC reporter worked undercover at the unit for 2 months and witnessed what has been described as psychological torture by Glynis Murphy, professor of clinical psychology and disability at Kent University’s Tizard Centre.
Six care workers told the reporter they had hurt patients deliberately whilst she also witnessed verbal abuse directed at the patients as well as episodes of restraint.
It is noted that restraint should only be used to stop a patient from harming themselves, and it should be momentary. In one case, a patient was restrained for 10 minutes whilst the care worker restraining them handed out chewing gum to colleagues.
The CQC (Care Quality Commission) regulates the industry and following inspection in 2017 gave the unit a rating of Good. It has since then issued a warning regarding excessive use of agency staff, staff training and long hours.
Deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, Dr Paul Lelliott , told Panorama: “On this occasion it is quite clear that we did not pick up the abuse that was happening at Whorlton Hall.
“All I can do is apologise deeply to the people concerned.”
Do you have a family member who was at Whorlton Hall?
If any of your family members or friends have experienced any abuse whilst in the care of professionals at Whorlton Hall or another establishment, there may be a case for compensation.
It is vital that you talk to a medical negligence solicitor, to see if you are able to start a claim for financial compensation. Blackwater Law offer free initial advice and operate any medical negligence case on a no win no fee basis. Contact us now to see how we can help.