Watching it was not easy, but the film demonstrates exactly what public service investigative journalism is for, and deserves major recognition:
The project was planned after a professional nurse blew the whistle on bullying behaviour among some of the care assistants at Winterbourne View, near Bristol. Particular attention focused on a great bullying bear of a carer who had seemingly built a whole culture of harassing those weaker than himself for his own amusement. Let none be deceived. The assessment of oft very limited service users can be challenging work, involving occasional need for physical restraint. This, however, was simply torture.
What do we learn?
- About Bullies
There is deep in some people a need to exploit others' weaknesses for their own gratification — to wind people up until they snap and then bring down the panoply of the rules upon them. There is a cruel, bullying streak in our culture at every level. An archbishop of the last century was told his broadcast on the subject of the abdication of Edward VIII had not gone down well with the public because it had appeared to be kicking a man when he was down. “But what’s the point of kicking him if he isn’t?” mused his Grace. Bullying behaviour, even in Church, happens on various levels, and should always be called out for what it is. Go along with the bully and you create the culture in which such behaviour thrives. Indulge them and you will have hell to pay. Remain silent and you collude.
- About Hospitals
The hospital’s owners had a large chest of what turn out to be fatuous awards and service gongs. You cannot legislate compassion and humanity by guidelines and targets. Whilst it’s good to know Wayne and some of his cohorts are currently helping the police with their inquiries, and shooting the sergeant is a classic response to failure, the systemics of their own operation allowed the owners to ignore clear distress signals from their own whistleblowing employee, employ several wildly unsuitable care workers, remain ignorant about what happens on their own property, ignore several injuries amongst the service users — all of these are management and governance failures, in which Wayne played but a walk-on part.
- About Regulation and Safeguarding
The same whistleblower approached the Care Quality Commission — the Government’s regulatory body — and they also ignored him. This raises profound concerns that, again, transcend one official’s judgment in this case, poor as it obviously was. CQC had inspected Winterbourne View three times in the past two years. How did they miss all evidence of wrongdoing, and how can we know that there is not widespread undetected abuse going on elsewhere?