Whorlton Hall
Whorlton Hall

A BBC One episode of Panorama, due to be aired tomorrow, will feature allegations of physical and psychological abuse by staff at Whorlton Hall, near Barnard Castle, officials have confirmed.

The Mercury revealed this month how a number of staff from Whorlton Hall, which cares for people living with learning disabilities and complex needs, were suspended while police investigate alleged abuse.

The BBC has scheduled a programme, called Hospital Abuse Scandal, to be screened on Wednesday, May 22, at 9pm.

Durham County Council today confirmed that this programme, which is due to last an hour, will feature Whorlton Hall.

Jane Robinson, corporate director for adult and health services, sent a communication to staff informing them of the programme.

In her email, she said: “We have been made aware that the BBC is planning to broadcast an episode of Panorama on Wednesday, 22 May at 9pm, regarding allegations of physical and psychological abuse by staff at Whorlton Hall independent hospital, in Barnard Castle. These are currently the subject of a police investigation.

“I would like to reassure you that the welfare and wellbeing of patients remains paramount and that we are working very closely with our NHS partners, the provider and the police with regard to this.

“I would ask that if you are approached by a member of the public regarding the claims, that you advise them that the council is aware of the allegations and that we are working closely with our partners to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of patients. However, as this is a criminal matter, we are unable to say anything further.”

Staff were advised not to speak to the media.

It is understood the NHS has briefed MP Helen Goodman. Police say they are unable to comment further.

A description of the BBC programme, which was referred to by Durham County Council, has been made available on the BBC’s website. The BBC declined to comment further on the programme’s content.

In a previous statement, Cygnet Health Care, which runs the home, said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously. We have informed all the relevant authorities, including the Care Quality Commission, NHS commissioning authorities, social workers and the police, who are conducting an investigation.

“Whorlton Hall is currently closed to new admissions. We have transferred staff from our other facilities to ensure the safe care and protection of the hospital’s patients.”