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Whorlton Hall abuse: review will examine why ‘opportunities to intervene were missed’

Care Quality Commission aims to improve its regulation of similar services

Care Quality Commission aims to improve its regulation of similar services


Whorlton Hall. Picture: BBC

An independent review is being launched to find out why ‘opportunities to intervene were missed’ regarding the alleged abuse of vulnerable patients in a private hospital.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ordered the investigation after a BBC Panorama programme appeared to show staff mocking, taunting, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients at Whorlton Hall hospital in County Durham.

Closure and arrests

Panorama went undercover between December 2018 and February 2019. Whorlton Hall has now been closed, and Durham Police arrested 10 members of staff.

Police said the investigation included allegations of physical and psychological abuse of patients.

How concerns were addressed

Barrister David Noble has been commissioned by the CQC to undertake an independent review into how it dealt with concerns raised in relation to the regulation of Whorlton Hall.

The health watchdog also apologised after it rated the hospital ‘good’ following an inspection in 2017.

The CQC said: ‘The review will focus in particular on concerns raised about a draft report prepared in 2015 [that raised concerns about abuse at Whorlton Hall], and how they were addressed through CQC’s internal processes.

‘The CQC is also commissioning a wider review of its regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019, which will include recommendations for how its regulation of similar services can be improved, in the context of a raised level of risk of abuse and harm.’

‘Open and transparent’ process


Caroline Dineage
Picture: Shutterstock

Earlier this month, the government apologised for the treatment of patients with autism and learning disabilities at Whorlton Hall.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It is clear that opportunities to intervene were missed, and we must be open and transparent in getting to the bottom of why this happened.

‘I have become increasingly concerned by evidence of poor care experienced by some of society’s most vulnerable people.’

Speaking in the House of Commons, health minister Caroline Dinenage told MPs: ‘On behalf of the health and care system, I am deeply sorry that this has happened.’

She said the actions revealed by the Panorama programme were ‘quite simply appalling’.

Ms Dinenage added that she condemned the actions which had led to ‘incredibly traumatic experiences of vulnerable people with a learning disability and autism at Whorlton Hall’.


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