Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti today spoke in a debate in Westminster Hall commemorating 10 years since the BBC Panorama documentary that exposed horrific abuse of patients with learning disabilities and autism in the Winterbourne View hospital.
The documentary, which was filmed undercover following frustrated attempts by whistleblower and former senior nurse Terry Bryan to take his concerns to multiple agencies, including the Council and Care Quality Commission, showed truly horrifying acts, described at the time as “torture”, being committed against the vulnerable adults living in Winterbourne View.
Multiple chances to intervene from agencies including the Police and Council were missed. 40 safeguarding alerts were sent to the Council but not acted upon, and 29 reports between Avon and Somerset Police and the hospital led to just one prosecution. The Council had believed the hospital had been honest about the incidents, which did not reflect the true nature of what had taken place. The police failed to properly investigate reports, and did not listen to patients testimony.
After the documentary was released, Jack summoned the Chief Executive of Castlebeck, the company which ran the hospital, to Parliament and demanded the hospital be closed and patients moved safely to new hospitals. The facility was closed on 20th June, and 11 former members of staff were eventually prosecuted for the crimes they committed.
In the debate, Jack said:
The horrifying evidence of the systematic abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, which happened in a place where they were meant to be safe and looked after, came to light just a year after I was elected to serve as MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke.
Nobody who watched the documentary could be anything other than horrified by what they saw; a total and complete failure of humanity, empathy and any sort of care on the part of the staff responsible for these vulnerable adults and a failure of agencies and organisations to act sooner, which could have stopped this abuse before so many people fell victim to it.
We must continue to learn the lessons from the terrible events at Winterbourne View.
Those who are entrusted to the care system, and their families, must be confident that their wellbeing is the highest priority to those responsible for their care.
We must work together to ensure this horrific abuse can never be repeated.