An independent review is being launched to find out how the alleged abuse of vulnerable patients in a private hospital could have happened after “opportunities to intervene were missed”.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) health watchdog ordered the investigation after a BBC Panorama programme appeared to show staff mocking, taunting, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients at Whorlton Hall hospital in County Durham.
Panorama went undercover between December and February. Police have since arrested 10 members of staff.
Durham Police said the investigation included allegations of physical and psychological abuse of patients.
The CQC also apologised after it rated the hospital “good” following an inspection in 2017.
David Noble has been commissioned by the CQC to undertake an independent review into how it dealt with concerns raised in relation to the regulation of Whorlton Hall.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is clear that opportunities to intervene were missed and we must be open and transparent in getting to the bottom of why this happened.
“I have become increasingly concerned by evidence of poor care experienced by some of society’s most vulnerable people.”
The CQC said: “The review will focus in particular on concerns raised about the draft report prepared in 2015, and how they were addressed through CQC’s internal processes.
“CQC is also commissioning a wider review of its regulation of Whorlton Hall between 2015 and 2019, which will include recommendations for how its regulation of similar services can be improved, in the context of a raised level of risk of abuse and harm.”
Earlier this month, the Government apologised for the treatment of patients with autism and learning disabilities at Whorlton Hall.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Health Minister Caroline 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”.
Ms Dinenage said she “utterly condemned” the actions which led to “incredibly traumatic experiences of vulnerable people with a learning disability and autism at Whorlton Hall”.