10 Whorlton Hall staff arrested on suspicion of physical and psychological abuse

Henry Bodkin
Whorlton Hall accommodated 12 NHS patients - BBC Panorama

Police have arrested 10 members of staff at a hospital where patients with autism and learning difficulties were allegedly abused in scandal dubbed a “second Winterbourne View”.

Durham Police said their investigation included allegations of physical and psychological abuse of NHS-funded patients at Whorlton Hall hospital near Barnard Castle.

It follows the screening on Wednesday of undercover footage shot by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

The force said arrests were made in Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Stockton on Friday and all of those questioned were members of staff at the privately-run facility.

Meanwhile Health Minister Caroline Dinenage apologised on behalf of the NHS after the documentary showed staff mocking, taunting, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients at the unit for people with learning difficulties.

Durham Police said it was seeking the co-operation of the Panorama team to gather further evidence.

A spokesman said: "As this is an ongoing inquiry, we are unable to comment further at this time, other than to repeat that our immediate priority has been to work with other agencies to safeguard the victims at the centre of the allegations and their families.

"The investigation is at an early stage and is expected to take some time to complete".

Undercover footage recorded by BBC reporter Olivia Davies showed one staff member call a patient a "fat c***" and another described the hospital as "house of mongs".

Another patient was told by her care worker that her family are "f****** poison".

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Dinenage told MPs: "On behalf of the health and care system, I am deeply sorry that this has happened."

She said the actions revealed by the Panorama programme were "quite simply appalling".