While POhWER has no knowledge of the workings of the hospital featured in the BBC Panorama programme, we are deeply concerned and frankly appalled by the undercover footage of the violent and abusive behaviour of care workers towards vulnerable people at Whorlton Hall, County Durham.

Both the BBC Panorama report and the CQC’s recent interim report on restraint, prolonged seclusion and segregation highlight the need for strong independent advocacy for vulnerable people, particularly where they may be placed far away from family and friends who may have limited opportunity to visit them and so observe when things can go as badly wrong as they did at the hospital featured.

As evidenced by our lobbying and consultation role with the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill and resulting Code of Practice, POhWER is committed to working to raise awareness of the need for independent advocacy and actively welcomes the opportunity to contribute to consultations such as the one currently being undertaken to produce the CQC final report, ensuring our clients’ voices are heard in the development and improvement of national and local policies and care.

POhWER advocates work hard to ensure that people’s voices are heard, their concerns are addressed, care plans are in place and followed and their human rights are respected and upheld. Our advocates take time to get to know the people they are supporting and understand their needs. This means that even when a person cannot or is too frightened to tell us what has been happening our advocates can spot changes of behaviour such as becoming unusually withdrawn or aggressive which may be an indicator that they are experiencing abuse or neglect.

We call on the government, local authorities and NHS commissioners to come together to deliver on the commitments made in the wake of Winterbourne View and are ready to play our role as a leading independent advocacy provider to support this. None of us want to have to watch another one of these reports, ever.