Winterbourne View hospital abuse

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The Winterbourne View hospital inquiry occurred at Winterbourne View, a private hospital at Hambrook, South Gloucestershire, England, owned and operated by Castlebeck.[1] A Panorama investigation, broadcast on television in 2011, exposed the physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour at the hospital.[2]

Local social services and the English national regulator (Care Quality Commission) had received various warnings but the mistreatment continued. One senior nurse, Terry Bryan, reported his concerns to the management at Winterbourne View and to CQC, but his complaint was not taken up.[3]

The publicly funded hospital was shut down as a result of the abuse that took place.[4]


The undercover footage showed staff repeatedly assaulting and harshly restraining patients under chairs. Staff gave one patient cold showers as a punishment, left her outside in near zero temperatures, and later poured mouthwash into her eyes. They pulled patients' hair and forced medication into their mouths. Victims were shown screaming and shaking; one patient was seen trying to jump out of a second-floor window to escape the torment, and was mocked by staff members afterwards.[5] Another patient was repeatedly poked in the eyes.[6]

A clinical psychologist who reviewed the footage described the abuse as "torture".[7]


On 21 June 2011, 86 people and organisations wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, about the revelations: "We are aware of the various actions currently being taken within and outside government – such as the DH review and CQC internal inquiry. We hope to make submissions to those both individually and collectively. However, on their own these will not be enough and a clear programme is needed to achieve change."[8] Cameron responded by saying he was "appalled" at the "catalogue of abuses" uncovered by the BBC TV series Panorama.[9]

In June 2011 the Association of Supported Living issued a press statement, which was followed up in writing to every member of parliament in the United Kingdom, calling for community based supported living services to replace institutional services for people with learning disabilities.[citation needed]

The Daily Telegraph said, "It is impossible to read the details of what went on at Winterbourne View, a care home for the severely disabled in Gloucestershire, without feeling repelled. In the wake of an exposé from the BBC's Panorama, 11 members of staff were convicted of almost 40 charges of neglect and ill treatment of those in their care."[10][11][12]

Systemic failings[edit]

The national regulator, the CQC did a nationwide check on facilities owned by the same company, Castlebeck Care, and as a result three more institutions were closed. The CQC reported a "systemic failure to protect people or to investigate allegations of abuse" and said that Castlebeck Care had "misled" the health watchdog.[3][13]

The CQC also came under criticism for failing to respond to early warnings of abuse at the care home. It initially blamed Winterbourne managers who, the CQC said, "effectively misled us by not keeping us informed about incidents".[14] However, it later emerged that managers had officially alerted the CQC to numerous allegations of staff abusing patients, dating back to February 2008, which were also reported to the police, but did not lead to any convictions.[15]


The CQC also inspected 132 similar institutions and a Serious Case Review was commissioned – some of the roughly ten local and national enquiries were carried out to examine what went wrong, including one by NHS Southwest which was one of the first to be published and list many of the others.[16][17] The head of the Care Quality Commission resigned ahead of a critical government report, a report in which Winterbourne View was cited.[18] Mencap published a report warning that similar abuse could be going on elsewhere, and calling for the closure of all large institutions far from patients' families.[19]


Eleven people pleaded guilty to criminal offences of neglect or abuse as a result of evidence from Undercover Care, and six of them were jailed.[20][21] Immediately after the eleventh person pleaded guilty, the Serious Case Review was published, revealing hundreds of previous incidents at the hospital, and warnings that were missed.[22][23]


The BBC programme Panorama produced an investigation documentary depicting the violations at Winterbourne View Hospital titled "Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed".[24][25]


  1. ^ "GA HC REIT II CH U.K. SENIOR HOUSING PORTFOLIO LIMITED, SW1H 0AD 21 PALMER STREET Financial Information". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  2. ^ 21:00 (31 May 2011). "BBC One - Panorama, Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed". BBC. Retrieved 23 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b "Winterbourne View 'failed to protect people'". BBC News. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Winterbourne View 'abuse' hospital closes on Friday". BBC News. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Winterbourne View: Abuse footage shocked nation". BBC News. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Undercover reporter 'haunted' by abuse of patients". BBC News. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Four arrests after patient abuse caught on film". BBC News. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  8. ^ McCallum, Ann. "Experts available for comment - Dimensions". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Prime Minister Responds to Letter Demanding Action After Winterbourne View | NDTi". 12 March 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Telegraph Leader". The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 August 2012.
  11. ^ "British Institute of Learning Disabilities Summary".
  12. ^ "Learning Disability Coalition". Learning Disability Coalition. 1 September 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Regulator announces third Castlebeck service to close | Care Quality Commission". Archived from the original on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  14. ^ "CQC report on Winterbourne View confirms its owners failed to protect people from abuse | Care Quality Commission". 18 July 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  15. ^ "South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board" (PDF). Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  16. ^[bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ "Other Home Closed". BBC News. 28 September 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  18. ^ Campbell, Denis (23 February 2012). "Cynthia Bower Resigns". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  19. ^ "Mencap Report". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Eleventh Guilty Plea". Archived from the original on 11 June 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Winterbourne View: Care workers jailed for abuse". BBC News. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  22. ^ "Winterbourne View - South Gloucestershire Council". Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  23. ^ "Serious Case Review". 7 August 2012. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  24. ^ "Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed, Panorama - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 24 February 2017. Reporter: Paul Kenyon, Undercover Reporter: Joe Casey
  25. ^ "Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed | BBC". BBC. Retrieved 24 February 2017.

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