The CALM response to the Panorama programme, Hospital Secrets Uncovered

The CALM Team

Today many of us will find ourselves feeling shocked, saddened, and angry at what we saw Wednesday night on the Panorama programme, Hospital Secrets Uncovered. The sense of collective dismay is palpable and our hearts weigh heavy. We should rightly feel angry, but we need to ensure that our dismay, sadness and anger are harnessed positively and turned into action and outcomes.

We have watched these exposés before, from McIntyre Undercover in 1999 to Winterbourne View in 2011 to Whorlton Hall in 2019 and now Edenfield Hospital – with many others in between. After each one there is a flurry of urgent action from those bodies and organisations with responsibilities, a desire to do something that will lead to change… and yet still the tragedies occur.

We saw the difficult, painful and abusive incidents experienced by people using services in Edenfield Hospital, in a place where they had sought support. We witnessed not just one-off abuse but a systemic lack of care and compassion, and dehumanisation of those in the care of the service. Our natural impulse to focus on staff misconduct has to be broadened. How could this happen? How do we start to address this? The organisation has to take on responsibility for whom it employs, and how it trains its employees – but it’s so much more than that. What are the processes and practices in the organisation? How strong (and caring) is the leadership? Are staff supported, and does human rights and trauma-informed practice play a core part in service delivery?

How do we ensure that the findings of the inquiries – which often highlight factors such as weak leadership and poor practices – will actually result in the organisational changes that will end abuse? Organisations must be supported to develop systems and cultures that can support compassionate, person-centred care, and inspection bodies must do more to increase the robustness of their approach to ensure these organisations are kept accountable for their practice.

We must do more and we must do better.

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