Yesterday our charity posted a statement expressing shock and upset at the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report into restraint and segregation.

Twenty-four hours later, we are in the appalling position of having to comment again.

On the BBC’s Panorama programme (Hospital Abuse Scandal), broadcast last night, we witnessed nothing short of state-sponsored psychological torture.

Footage filmed by an undercover reporter captured scenes at the Whorlton Hall unit in Co Durham which has shocked experts.

Staff were seen taunting, provoking, intimidating and wrongfully restraining patients with learning disabilities and autism. No footage of assaults was captured, but staff were recorded talking about physical abuse they had meted out to patients.

This is a privately run, 17-bed unit, funded by the NHS and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The expose comes eight years after the BBC’s Panorama uncovered abuse at Winterbourne View, a privately run unit near Bristol.

The CQC has today apologised, saying it missed what was going on at Whorlton Hall.

At Autism Together we employ a thousand staff. Each and every one of us is shocked to the core by this rampant abuse. We are compassionate care workers. The individuals we support get the best possible, most person-centred care we can offer. And because of this, the 450 people in our care lead good lives.

Our staff wish to say through this statement that this abuse of power over the vulnerable does not describe us nor does it describe the compassionate work carried out nationwide by our colleagues right across the social care and healthcare sectors.

Yet again, we call on the government to do what it said it would do after Winterbourne: close down these large, institutionalised units. It’s time to invest in a new generation of autism care.

BBC iPlayer – Panorama – Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal

Autism Together logo