Mencap and the CBF respond to the new Panorama programme

“Great intentions, but its time for Government action”

Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation comment on new Panorama programme investigating further abuse allegations

Following the jailing of six people for abusing people with learning disabilities in the Winterbourne View assessment and treatment centre, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation are calling for the government to commit to real change to stop people with learning disabilities being inappropriately sent away to long stay institutions, where they are at risk of abuse and neglect.


Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap has taken part in a follow up Panorama, The Hospital That Stopped Caring, which airs tonight, Monday 29th October, on BBC One at 8.30pm.  For advice and guidance after the programme call Mencap on 0808 808 1111.

Mr Goldring says that the system is warehousing difficult patients, rather than focusing on treating them:What allowed Winterbourne and places like it to flourish was that those places were effectively being used as a dumping ground by public bodies who hadn’t planned ahead… When you’re making a large profit you have no incentive to try and help with the discharge of somebody.”                    

The Department of Health has issued a number of statements committing to reducing the number of people being sent away for long periods for “assessment and treatment”.  They agree that people should move out of services quickly and that local services should be commissioned. 

However the charities are disappointed that at present there is no indication of how the Government is going to enforce these much needed changes, the timetable for closure or the reallocation of funds. 

The families and charities have asked for an urgent meeting with Care Services minister Norman Lamb, to press the Government to use its report in November to announce how it will enforce a phased closure programme of institutions like Winterbourne View. And to clarify precisely how it will ensure that local, expert, services are provided and funded.


Vivien Cooper, founder of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, says:

'We are talking about people's daughters, sons, brothers and sisters, who have the same human rights as you or I. Too often individuals are being sent away from their families because the right support isn't in place locally. This must change. They should be able to stay close to the people who love them '

The programme has learned that 19 of the 51 patients who spent time at Winterbourne View have had further alerts over their safety since leaving. Whilst not all alerts will mean someone has been harmed, the programme alleges that at least one patient has been assaulted and in a second case there is a criminal investigation.

One year after the original Panorama was broadcast, revealing the shocking abuse suffered by people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation published “Out of Sight”, a report which showed clearly that people with learning disabilities are being systematically failed by local authorities and the NHS. 


Fore more information, please download the full press statement.

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