The reporting of abuse at the Winterbourne View
private Hospital near Bristol is nothing new. From our very early days as student nurses, we was always sobered by tales of mistreatment and bad practice regaled to us by nurse tutors and senior management staff who would not ever permit abuse to occur on their watch, But abuse, especially in the more "unpopular" areas of nursing ie, psychiatry, the nursing of vulnerable adults/ care of the elderly/ keeps happening, especially when ill trained, non qualified staff are not supervised, supported and developed well enough.
In my career, I have only been involved in one case of potential abuse.
It was in psychiatry, when a seriously ill female patient made an allegation that a male member of staff had assaulted her. The male member of staff , who was a rather dis-likable fellow, denied the charges, and was suspended until a full and proper investigation was carried out.
I recall the atmosphere on the ward could be cut with a knife as petty feuds, gossip, and personal and professional loyalties all clashed terribly and even when nothing was proved one way or another, the fall out for the nurse involved was serious enough for him to leave his post .
Years later I remember discussing the incident with an old colleague and friend and she informed me that she had worked with the patient after she was discharged home and subsequently found out that the abuse was a mistaken memory of real abuse handed out by the patient's husband. A man that who looked remarkably like the male nurse who was accused.in the first place.
Apparently the husband had beaten his mentally ill wife for years.
No one involved in the original investigation ever realised this fact
The abuse at Winterbourne Hospital by the sound of it was endemic and part of the culture of the place. It reeked of bad management and as a result protocols will be designed and policies will be enforced to make sure that "this will never happen again"
But as I recall that unpopular male nurse from my own nursing past, I do shout out a word of caution here.Let us ,as a profession, remember the nurse in all this as well as the patient.
His career was effectively ended by a mistake, and even though nothing was proved, I think our overwhelming need to blame and our subjectivity took over