Change that leads to better lives

Ending Hospital Abuse. Statement from NDTi's Chief Executive Paul Marshall on the Panorama Programme on abuse at Whorlton Hall

“words won’t change the situation, we need clear and distinct action”

Statement from NDTi's Chief Executive Paul Marshall on the Panorama Programme on abuse at Whorlton Hall

As with all of those who watched Panorama last night, I and the team at NDTi are angered and upset at the harrowing scenes and practice that it showed. That anger is underpinned by frustration that, despite the commitments and recommendations made as a result of the Winterbourne View investigation 8 years ago, the same abuse, neglect and ignorance of human rights exists.

Yes, it’s outrageous, and people have shared their outrage via social media, interviews on radio and in news stories. We fully expect that outrage to continue and it’s right that it does, but words won’t change the situation, we need clear and distinct action.

We all know that the answer isn’t as simple as saying close everywhere, it’s much more complex. However, there are three urgent and distinct actions needed as a starting point.

  • Oversight and regulation has to change – it’s not working. We need oversight and regulation that understands the risks of any kind of segregation balanced against the community capital gained from community support services and independent living. Oversight needs to include experts by experience who have the knowledge about the reality of living in these places and what works best for them. Regulation also needs stronger powers and flexibility to do its job well, enabling ad hoc onsite checks and the ability to stop organisations that enable or breed abuse.
  • Proper person-centred support that looks at an individual’s gifts and needs within the community rather than placement based on labels. It cannot be right that people are placed in locations simply because they fit a tick list of clinical categories.

“I was in a CETR where the whole clinical team and community team had looked at the very long list of labels one person had been given and so the community team went and sourced a placement 5hrs away because it was the only place that could cater for the labels the person had. Let’s get back to seeing the person and not a label. Address the person and their needs first.” Expert by Experience from the NDTi Care and Treatment Review (CTR) Training Programme

  • Investment in adequate alternatives in the community and small support services – there’s little point in closing a place or moving someone into a community setting if there’s nowhere for that person to go for the support, choices and connections they need to feel safe and cared for.

In spite of the broken promises and rhetoric over action - there are already examples of where things have changed for the better.

For those we work with, co-production and a human rights based approach are at the heart and we can see the positive change it’s making . So, what sets them apart – is it commitment, the courage to act or invest? We believe it’s a combination of all of these but crucially also seeing people as individuals, not labels. It’s the guts to say we are fed up of talking about it, being brave in addressing what others might see as too difficult or too complex, and actively doing something that shifts things. So, yes, we know its complex, but enough talking – we need to start action now.

Paul Marshall Profile for website

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