Winterbourne View: Families demand action five years on from Panorama

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Media captionSteve Sollars, whose son Sam was held there, said the government 'should be ashamed of itself'

Families of victims of the Winterbourne View scandal have written to the prime minister demanding he shuts outdated care home institutions.

They said there is "painfully slow lack of change", five years after abuse at the former private hospital near Bristol was exposed by BBC Panorama.

Some 3,500 vulnerable people with learning disabilities are still resident at inpatient units.

NHS England admits it is still taking too long to review their care.

'Lives lost'

Undercover filming showed people with learning disabilities and autism being taunted, bullied and abused at the now closed Winterbourne View Hospital.

Image copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption Some 11 care workers were arrested after secret filming by the BBC's Panorama at Winterbourne View, near Bristol

In an open letter to David Cameron, the families of some of the victims, say that promises to close all other similar units and provide more appropriate support have not been met.

They wrote to express their anger at the "lack of change" since the revelations were made.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Secret filming caught patients being dragged and slapped by support workers

It added despite "clear commitments" from the government and the NHS some 3,500 people, including more than 160 children... "are still stuck with places like Winterbourne View"

The letter has been signed by Steve Sollars, Ann Earley, Wendy Fiander and Claire and Emma Garrod, whose family members were all residents at Winterbourne View.

Image caption Campaigners against the abuse of people with learning disabilities gathered outside the crown court

It is supported by Dr Margaret Flynn, the author of the Winterbourne View serious case review, Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

Ann Earley, whose son Simon Tovey was abused at the hospital, said the first she knew about what happened to Simon, and other residents of Winterbourne View was when she was shown footage of the abuse by Panorama producers.

"I was utterly speechless to see the cruelty, the physical abuse, the mental torture and the systematic nature of it all," she said.

NHS England acknowledged the the progress to date "hasn't been quick enough" and it "sympathised with the frustrations expressed" but a spokeswoman said a "real difference" would be seen over the coming months.

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