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The scandal of Winterbourne View – have the lessons been learnt?

Free access to special issue of the Journal of Adult Protection that considers this

United Kingdom, 14 August 2013 – “Patients were slapped, punched, subjected to unequal games of strength and kicked. They had their hair pulled, their fingers, wrists and arms bent back; they were teased and soaked in water” (Flynn & Citarella, 2013).

In 2011 a BBC Panorama programme exposed serious neglect and psychological and physical abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View Hospital. To mark one year since the publication of the official independent report which recommended fundamental changes to the commissioning and monitoring of care following the disclosure of abuse, The Journal of Adult Protection has dedicated a special issue to the topic which can be freely read until 30 August 2013 by visiting, username: winterbourne2013, password: emerald

With patient neglect and maltreatment becoming a regular feature in the news, this special issue serves as a timely reminder of the horrific abuse that occurred at Winterbourne View and the national response it evoked. It assesses whether the recommended changes have been achieved, concluding that there is still more to be done. Uniquely, it collates articles from key individuals from the original Panorama revelation and the subsequent investigation:

  • Margaret Flynn, Co-Editor of The Journal of Adult Protection and author of the Serious Case Review into the abuse, teams up with Vic Citarella to address the issues involved in the fall-out following the Panorama exposure and what progress has been made to date.
  • Joe Plomin, TV producer of the original BBC Panorama exposé, offers a unique personal account of the experiences of a journalist involved with exposing a scandal directly with professionals responsible for adult protection. 
  • Sheree Louise Green, a Senior Associate Solicitor for Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, sets out how better use of existing legislation and provision could change the day-to-day experience of individuals with learning disabilities.
  • MP Paul Burstow proposes that as a consequence of the Winterbourne View scandal the Health and Social Care Act 2008 be amended to include a new section which would make corporate neglect a criminal offence.
  • A guest editorial from Carol Tozer, Executive Director of Services at Scope, provides an overview and summary of the issue.

Co-Editor Margaret Flynn comments: ‘In Jackie Davis and Raymond Tallis (Eds), NHS SOS, London: Oneworld Publications, Raymond Tallis wrote: " at Winterbourne (hidden from) View, where patients were abused at the per capita cost to the taxpayer of £150,000 a year, hardly demonstrate the humanising influence of the market in healthcare" (p15). This special edition of The Journal of Adult Protection endorses this position and confirms the life-saving importance of public good and local public service. The edition adds further weight to the evidence within the Serious Case Review, the parallel investigations and the Department of Health responses. It comprises a powerful manifesto for redirecting unimaginative NHS commissioning, rethinking the use of the mental health legislation and developing accountable and valued services for adults with learning disabilities and autism."’

This special issue is published as Volume 15, Issue 4 of The Journal of Adult Protection, the only journal to provide vital knowledge, research and evidence-based practice across all adult service user groups in safeguarding vulnerable adults, including older people, those with intellectual/learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and mental health problems. For more information, visit

The Journal of Adult Protection is one of 31 titles in the Health and Social Care collection published by Emerald Group Publishing:

Reference:Flynn, M., Citarella, V., (2013) "Winterbourne View Hospital: a glimpse of the legacy", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 15, No, 4


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