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Winterbourne View: 10 years on

BASW England is strongly advocating for social care that is properly resourced and funded to be able to deliver the high-quality support and housing that is needed in the community

With ten years passing since BBC Panorama exposing the scandal at Winterbourne View, BASW England has been taking action to ensure that this dark episode is never forgotten - and that more is done to ensure it does not happen again.

Westminster Hall debate

Last week, MPs took part in a Westminster Hall debate that focused on the events of ten years ago and the transforming care programme. 

BASW England provided MPs with a briefing, outlining the role social workers play in upholding the human rights of people in care settings, as well as providing key information about our Homes not Hospitals campaign.

It was encouraging to listen to contributions from Helen Hayes MP, who called on the government to “put in place the funding needed to deliver homes not hospitals for people with learning disabilities and autistic people”.

MPs such as Paul Bristow and Liz Kendall also reiterated the need for the government to do more and to come clean on why targets on reducing the numbers of people stuck in in-patient units have been repeatedly missed.

Members are encouraged to watch the debate via the BBC iPlayer.

'Homes not Hospitals' media coverage

Community Care recently published an article to mark ten years since Winterbourne View and offered lessons for social workers. The piece explored the progress made so far as well as the challenges that remain today.

They also highlighted BASW England’s Homes not Hospitals campaign pointing to the advice available as part of the set of resources we launched in May.

APPG on Learning Disability to discuss the 10th Anniversary of Winterbourne View

On the 10 June 2021 the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability brought key stakeholders together to discuss progress on the number of important strands of work that impact on this area, such as the upcoming cross-government strategy on Transforming Care and reform of the Mental Health Act. 

The APPG heard from a range of speakers including Helen Whately MP (Minister for Care), Ian Trenholm (Chief Executive of the CQC), Claire Murdoch (National Mental Health Director NHSE/I) alongside family members who shared their reflections on what has happened in the ten years since Winterbourne View. 

The message throughout the APPG was clear: publish the governmental action plan. 

Transparency and government accountability are key and members of the APPG called for a further session or a future session to track progress and focus on solutions. BASW England will be advocating for continued representation at the APPG for Learning Disabilities from people with lived experience, family members, carers and social workers to be involved in speaking evidence at future sessions.

The future

Not enough has been done since Winterbourne View. Despite government commitments and warm words, meaningful action is still needed.

The recently published report: Tea, Smiles and Empty Promises: Winterbourne View, and a decade of failures[1] written by the families of people who were subject to abuse, degrading and inhumane treatment at Winterbourne View, draws out key themes, which were relevant 10 years ago and remain relevant now. The action they call for is mirrored by the BASW England Homes not hospital campaign: a focus on early help and prevention, community-based support and housing and trauma-informed approaches to support. 

BASW England is strongly advocating for social care that is properly resourced and funded to be able to deliver the high-quality support and housing that is needed in the community.

The cross-government action plan is called for by the Winterbourne View families and needs to be published as a matter of urgency with a timeline for dissemination and implementation. There needs to be a clear commitment to consultation and engagement at every stage with people, families and key stakeholders.  

Homes not Hospitals 

Just as our Homes not Hospitals campaign demands, we need to see preventative and joined up approaches in terms of commissioning, human rights-based practice, the role of social work and legal literacy to reduce the risk of situations from reaching the point of hospital admission. 

We also maintain that the use of restraint or isolation should always be seen as a failure of the system and care.

Where the person is already subject to this type of care and treatment regime, they need to be supported to leave as quickly as possible to a place they want to live with the right support in place. Too many people end up stuck because of failures the system.

Find out more about the Homes not Hospitals key documents and campaign activity

Let’s Talk Social Work podcast: Episode 18: 'Homes not Hospitals'

This episode featured Alexis Quinn (Autistic woman, Activist, Author and Manager of the Restraint Reduction Network) and Barbara Keeley MP 

Listen here:


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