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Tuesday 20th August 2019

Panorama viewers horrified as show uncovers appalling abuse of vulnerable patients in hospital

Whorlton Hall staff mocked and bullied those under their care

Panorama viewers have been left distressed and sickened by a report into the disgusting abuse suffered by patients at a hospital in County Durham.

On Wednesday night (May 22), extremely disturbing scenes showed vulnerable people being bullied, intimidated, mocked and violated by the very people who should have been looking after them.

Staff at Whorlton Hall hospital in County Durham were filmed exhibiting disgusting behaviour (Credit: BBC)

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Investigative journalist Olivia Davies went undercover as a care worker to secretly film behaviour at Whorlton Hall hospital in County Durham.

And what she discovered - and captured on film with secret cameras - were staff seen cruelly abusing their patients, who suffered from a range of conditions, including autism and learning difficulties.

The episode of Panorama, entitled Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal, showed vulnerable adults being deliberately provoked by staff who then had the excuse to physically restrain them.

Olivia Davies went undercover as a care worker for Panorama (Credit: BBC)

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Secret filming showed staff members taunting patients, mocking them and intimidating them, instead of attempting to make them calm and encouraging their independence.

An autistic patient was told she was "[bleeping] poison", while others were goaded into distressing situations. One staff member was filmed saying it was "so funny" as a patient was clearly in distress.

A totally different breed of evil.

Another was caught on film using an abusive term to describe the residents.

The mother of an autistic girl broke down in tears at the footage (Credit: BBC)

A male staff member said he "wanted to kill" a vulnerable patient in another example of hospital workers "who couldn't care less".

An expert described the footage as "psychological torture".

The Panorama investigation comes eight years after the programme exposed the scandal of abuse at Winterbourne View, another specialist hospital.

That scandal, which saw six people jailed, prompted a pledge by David Cameron to close similar facilities within two years.

Staff were vile towards those in their care (Credit: BBC)

Then, the government promised to reform care for the most vulnerable. Now they stand accused of failing to keep that promise by families, campaigners and whistleblowers.

We're told the staff members featured on the documentary have since been suspended.

Those watching from home were deeply upset by what they saw, with one tweeting: "Three minutes into #Panorama and I'm already horrified.

"This is my absolute nightmare for anyone who is already SO vulnerable and doesn't have the capacity to protect themselves. A totally different breed of evil."

Another said: "Watching this is frankly shocking, I hope each and every member of staff involved is sacked and then considered for prosecution for abusing these patients. Sickening for families to see this happening to loved ones."

A third added: "Feel sick to the stomach watching these so-called carers abusing the suffering. It's beyond belief #Panorama."