A fitness to practice hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council has found a nurse, who worked at Winterbourne View during the time of the BBC Panorama expose, guilty of punching a young man with a learning disability, breaking his jaw and knocking out his teeth, whilst working at the now shut down private hospital. Despite finding the nurse guilty, the hearing found the nurse was fit to continue practising.

Mencap, the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and family members of Ben Garrod respond below.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said:

It is astonishing that no sanctions were imposed by the NMC despite concluding that this young man suffered a broken jaw and front teeth knocked out at the hands of the nurse who was supposed to be caring for him. This cannot be acceptable.  

Hospitals should be safe, caring environments where patients receive high quality care from trained staff. This ruling risks setting a dangerous precedent that it is okay for staff to use violence against vulnerable people in order to manage their challenging behaviour. This young man’s family have worked tirelessly to expose their loved ones suffering for over half a decade, and have now been told by the NMC that violence is an appropriate method of care management.

The safeguards in the system have failed the very people they are there to protect and the lack of accountability is appalling. It is the responsibility of individuals, providers, commissioners and regulators as well as the criminal justice system to ensure that abuse against people with a learning disability is not tolerated under any circumstances or in any settings.

Claire and Emma Garrod, mother and sister to Ben Garrod who was a patient at Winterbourne View Hospital, commented:

As a family we are dumbfounded by these findings. We will never get over the horror of what happened to Ben in a place he should have been cared for. The damage will never be undone and to hear of the appalling events he suffered is draining and painful for us all. That there is no accountability for his appalling injuries is just beyond words.

There is a painful lack of understanding of learning disability and challenging behaviour within the system that all too often leads to people with a learning disability being dehumanised. This has to change. It is important that they are at the centre of hearings like this, and that their needs and personality are understood.

Ben is now doing well in his community with the right support and care, although he needs ongoing support and understanding to cope with his abusive experiences. We will continue to help Ben as much as possible to help him recover from his experiences, and to enable him to enjoy the ordinary life opportunities he has a right to.

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk or for out of hours 07770 656 659.

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.

About The Challenging Behaviour Foundation

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) is an independent charity providing information, support and workshops around challenging behaviour associated with severe learning disabilities to families and professionals. The CBF leads the ‘Challenging Behaviour National Strategy Group’ which seeks to influence policy and practice nationally and has developed the Challenging Behaviour Charter.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation was founded in 1997 by Vivien Cooper, parent of a son with severe learning disabilities who displays behaviour described as challenging. Today the Challenging Behaviour Foundation is in regular contact with over 5000 families and professionals across the UK. There are an estimated 30,000 individuals in England with severe learning disabilities and behaviour described as challenging.

www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk