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BPS Comments on Shocking and Disturbing Whorlton Hall Abuse

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‘We were appalled by the shocking and disturbing treatment of people with intellectual disabilities at Whorlton Hall which was shown in last night’s BBC Panorama broadcast.

‘One of the ways we judge a society is how it cares for vulnerable people, and this is a harrowing reminder of the consequences when behaviour falls so far below the acceptable standard that it requires a criminal investigation to be opened.

‘It was particularly upsetting to see those who had been entrusted with a vital care role provoking, intimidating and abusing their patients. Supporting vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities requires competent, experienced and compassionate staff who have access to support, advice, supervision and leadership, which was clearly not the case at Whorlton Hall.

‘This is not the first time that abuse such as this has been uncovered at a facility purporting to care for vulnerable people, and just last year we saw the Muckamore Abbey scandal in Northern Ireland. The seemingly endless repeats of disgraceful levels of inadequate care show that the current system simply is not working and is failing to protect people from harm.

‘The distressing scenes which were shown underline the importance of ensuring that the Transforming Care programme is delivered effectively and with proper governance. Members of our Division of Clinical Psychology’s Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities have been working to ensure effective implementation, and to improve the standard of care in both community and in-patient settings.

‘Psychologists working in similar settings have an important role in examining the effectiveness of policies and procedures which affect the care of people with intellectual disabilities, and to address any abuse or neglect immediately if they become aware of it.

‘A police investigation is underway and must be allowed to run its course, and those involved must face consequences for their actions, but it is then vital that the clear systemic shortfalls in training, staffing and management culture are not allowed to continue or re-occur elsewhere so that we can finally end institutional abuse.

‘It is also disappointing that once again it has required the intervention of an undercover journalist to expose the shocking abuse taking place at Whorlton Hall. The appropriate authorities must look at the way in which these facilities are inspected and graded, and whether structures are in place for staff to both know when they should speak out and feel confident enough to do so.’

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