BBC Panorama programme: Ategi's response
Image credit: BBC
Watching the BBC Panorama programme, filmed at Prestwich Hospital mental health unit, was distressing and heart breaking.
Their undercover investigation, at the Edenfield Unit for adults, showed shocking evidence of patients in a NHS psychiatric hospital in Manchester being bullied, ridiculed and abused. It has been over a decade since the scandal of Winterbourne View abuse was exposed and yet still there are more than 2,000 adults within inpatient settings. Again, we heard reports of a toxic staff culture and excessive use of restraint. We saw dreadful footage of groups of staff physically lifting and moving people, with not a hint of consideration for the dignity or wellbeing of the individual.
Whilst an inpatient environment might be a short-term solution for someone in crisis, they should be places of safety, of care and of compassion. They should not be institutionalised, uncaring and outdated hospitals. Ategi has its charitable foundations in the closure of such hospitals, originating first as a community interest company involved in the closure of Ely Hospital in Cardiff.
Previously an investigator of some complex abuse cases, the horrors that vulnerable people can endure whilst in the so called ‘care’ of others never ceases to disgust me and serves to drive my determination that people should have the right to expect good, safe care, and to be treated humanely.
Yet it is important to recognise there are many contributing factors to these awful situations. Although clearly those staff directly involved are responsible for their own actions, as serious case reviews into abuse investigations identify, the underlying causes go wider and deeper. Worryingly the situation in this Manchester hospital could take place anywhere across the UK.
Being entrusted with the provision of social care to people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and autistic people is a privilege that comes with the upmost of responsibility. This must be recognised through reforming the social care model and the allocated funding. There must be greater respect, recognition and reward for those who work with care and kindness in the frontline of social care; and there must be more community-based options for people with additional needs.
Ategi has a longstanding reputation for supporting adults with a range of complex and challenging needs, sometimes when other service providers have failed. We want to support more people out of inappropriate and unacceptable settings and into a home where they can rebuild their lives – and start to make decisions about the lives they want to lead. To do this, social care must be able to attract more people, with the right values and behaviours.
Yet, this all comes at a time when so many experienced and valued social care workers are leaving to find better paid employment elsewhere as a cost of living crisis is underway. Ategi is proud to be a real living wage employer for our frontline employees but it is not enough as all those working in social care deserve so much more. We need the Government to make a commitment (that they demonstrate through their actions) that responds to the desperate need to reform our country’s social care provision.
Our hearts reach out to all those affected in the programme last night.
Ategi Chief Executive Officer