Panorama programme last night.

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Panorama – The Hospital that Stopped Caring

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Although I had been pre-warned through news reports throughout the day, I was still incredibly upset to see the victimisation that some vulnerable people with learning difficulties have faced in the care homes that they were placed in.

As a parent myself, I can empathise with how harrowing it is to agree to have your child taken into care in the first instance, but this is on the understanding that this action is in the best interests of the individual, and will allow them to have the most fulfilled life possible, with assured standards of care.

Everyone is familiar with the concept that children should be protected. Vulnerable adults, including those with learning disabilities are also supposed to be protected under various heads of legislation. POVA, VBS, MHA 2005, MHA 1980. This includes ensuring that they are able to live in a safe and unintimidating environment, cared for by professionals who will not abuse the residents' inability to fully express themselves, either physically, verbally or emotionally.

Last year, thanks at least in part, to a Panorama documentary, incidents of significant abuse were uncovered at the private Winterbourne View Hospital, and subsequently a number of other care facilities. For recent coverage on the prosecutions click here.

What was appalling to see tonight, was that some of those individuals, who had already suffered abuse at Winterbourne View, had been moved to other properties, where they had then gone on to suffer continuing and similar abuse, which under no circumstances, can have been viewed as beneficial to their own health and wellbeing.

I can only hope that such treatment has been chosen to be aired because it raises viewers' levels of concern, and not that It is indicative of our care system for vulnerable adults in general, but somehow I am not convinced.  

There are without doubt, some excellent providers of adult care in Britain, and I was pleased to see that one of these was featured on the programme. However, the expectation, and indeed the requirement, is that all providers meet this excellent standard.

None of us know when we might need to rely upon these services. It might be for our children, our parents, our partners or even ourselves, and everyone wants to know that they can live to the best of their capabilities without the fear of physical or emotional abuse in a caring environment.

Kym Provan

Senior Solicitor

Clinical Negligence

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