CARE minister Caroline Dinenage has apologised for the treatment of patients with autism and learning difficulties at a specialist hospital.
The Gosport MP has said sorry on behalf of the NHS after a BBC Panorama programme uncovered staff mocking, taunting, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients at Whorlton Hall, in County Durham.
In undercover footage recorded by BBC reporter Olivia Davies, one staff member was captured shouting obscenities to patients while another care worker was caught verbally bullying a patient.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Ms Dinenage told MPs: ‘On behalf of the health and care system, I am deeply sorry that this has happened.’
The Tory MP admitted the actions revealed by the Panorama programme were ‘quite simply appalling’.
Ms Dinenage said she ‘utterly condemned’ the actions which led to ‘incredibly traumatic experiences of vulnerable people with a learning disability and autism at Whorlton Hall’.
The government will take action to look at whether there was criminality in the actions, whether the oversight system is working and also the commissioning of care services.
She said: ‘There are also a range of questions more broadly about whether these types of institutions and these type of inpatient settings are ever an appropriate place to keep the vulnerable for any extended length of time.’
The Gosport MP added: ‘Where it is essential that somebody has to be supported at distance from their home, we will make sure that those arrangements are supervised.
‘We won't tolerate having people out of sight and out of mind. Where someone with a learning disability or an autistic person has to be an inpatient out of area, they will be now visited every six weeks if they are a child or every eight weeks if they are an adult.’