“Undercover Hospital: Patients at Risk” blog post

The BBC Panorama documentary “Undercover Hospital: Patients at Risk” which aired this week, clearly showed how some mental health services are still systemically failing people who need their help and support at a time of crisis. The mental health unit highlighted in the documentary is now the subject of a criminal investigation, after an undercover reporter exposed the unit’s degrading treatment and abuse towards the patients. There is still a misconception that abuse does not occur within professional services, especially since the Winterbourne View hospital abuse scandal in 2011. However, Panorama exposed a toxic culture and abusive environment within the secure Edenfield Unit in Prestwich, where detained patients were being treated in an inhumane and degrading way. Patients were being subjected to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, instead of receiving the necessary therapeutic care and treatment to aid their recovery and subsequent discharge from the hospital.

Whilst we have no knowledge of what services or organisations may have been available to the patients within Edenfield, as an independent advocacy provider, Advocacy Focus trains our team to adopt a degree of professional curiosity. To be tuned into their gut feelings, to question, challenge and to think that if something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. Any advocacy provider working within health and social care must have a presence within mental health hospitals as a priority, to help safeguard, listen to and inform people of their rights. People’s voices should never be silenced just because they are experiencing a mental health crisis. Any concerns raised should be investigated to the full extent, and the abuse stopped and prevented from ever occurring again. If patients on the wards and their families know what their rights are and who they can turn to if things go wrong, then they are bound to have better outcomes, feel safe and move towards recovery and their return home.

If you have a friend or loved one receiving treatment currently from a mental health facility, or something like this has happened to you, you can find out more about Independent Advocacy and how we can help. Advocacy Focus is independent of the local authority, health and social care services and is on your side. You are not alone and there is help available. If you need more information about the services our charity provides, you can find it here. Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) – Advocacy Focus

If you have been affected by the programme and are struggling to understand and process the events you have witnessed, then please reach out to Advocacy Focus for advocacy support or for help accessing further support from other local organisations. You can call us on 0300 323 0965, or reach out via our live chat facility at www.advocacyfocus.org.uk

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