Mental health service users and families say abuse uncovered by BBC’s Panorama programme is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ in services in the UK

CHARM is leading the call for a fully independent public enquiry into the abuse in services run by Great Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust. We are asking supporters to become Signatories in support for our call,

If you support our statement you can add your name here

Following the shocking allegations broadcast on September 28th on the BBC’s Panorama programme about staff abuse at the Edenfield medium secure inpatient unit at Prestwich Hospital, mental health service users and families from across the UK have been coming forward to share their own stories of abuse & mistreatment in mental health services.

In response to the tide of stories now being revealed, which indicate that the cruel and degrading abuse of patients at Edenfield is by no means an isolated incident, CHARM is calling for people to come forward to give their testimonies and for a fully independent public inquiry to be carried out.

Cheryl Prax, London, whose arm was broken by mental health staff
They dragged me back to my room, threw me on the bed and left me. I was crying for five hours holding my arm. But they held me for fourteen and a half hours before they sent me for an X-ray, because they just wouldn’t believe me.
When they broke my arm, it made me think I was right in believing I was in a dangerous situation. The second time was when they held me down and gave me a tranquilising shot in the bottom. I thought they were going to kill me. That was the worst point – when I thought I was going to die. I was terrified, really terrified that I was going to die. But I wasleft on the ward with the same people who’d abused me.

This World Mental Health Day (Monday October 10th) it’s time to take seriously the call from the WHO and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and bring an end to institutionalisation we need to shine a light on the cruel and degrading abuse patients are enduring at the hands of poorly trained and inadequately supervised mental health professionals in a system that is failing both patients and staff.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has given Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust until October 14th to detail what action the trust intends to take to address the contraventions of three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lisa Crowther, Manchester
‘As a result of my formal complaint about the dreadful way my daughter was treated as an inpatient on their ward, they admitted that the ward staff have no training at all in her specific severe mental health condition and so were incapable of supporting her. As an inpatient there were many occasions where my daughter suffered abuse and neglect, at one point they were happy to let her almost starve to death to test out a theory and I had to intervene and override the professionals and take her some food and fluid into the hospital before it was too late’

CHARM, numerous mental health service users and key mental health organisations are asking why, despite a £500 billion investment in clinical services over the past five decades, not only are there more people in acute mental distress, but abuse in services remains prevalent. What we need is a fundamental change of approach, including major investment in a wide range of non-medical resources within local communities.

Tanya Frank, London
My son, now 32, has been hospitalised at least twenty times during the thirteen years of his changing psychiatric diagnoses that included amongst other labels, psychosis, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder. Drugs administered at a toxic level, being warehoused in a locked facility, and having his liberties eroded over and over again have taken a heavy toll. My son now suffers from severe tremors, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, damage to cognition and memory, and obesity. The collateral damage from him being held against his will, the institutional practices on the wards and the culture of fear and toxicity are a recipe for disaster, a heightened risk of suicide upon discharge and less chance to regain agency and autonomy in the community.

The scenes in BBC’s Panorama programme depict a toxic culture amongst staff on the unit who were filmed physically abusing patients, detaining patients in locked isolation rooms for weeks, depriving them of their bedding and personal items including teddy bears, telling patients that they took pleasure in forcibly injecting them with medication against their will, taunting & bullying, and using derogatory names to refer to them.

Founder & Co-ordinator of the user-led group, Liberation, Dorothy Gould:
The Panorama programme’s findings fit all too closely with my own experiences in a psychiatric hospital – like many of my peers, I was utterly traumatised. As people in acute mental distress, we should have, but don’t get the same human rights as anyone else – and planned mental health law reform will do little to address that. When, and only when, we receive full human rights, will there be any fundamental change.

The undercover filming highlighted an almost total lack of any therapeutic work or interventions and an environment where poor training and inadequate supervision and oversight led to the worst possible outcomes. Sadly, families and service users say this abuse is not limited to Edenfield and services in Manchester.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr Lucy Johnstone:
‘Tragically, this is not just about a particular hospital. It is about a failed paradigm of care, in which people are routinely re-traumatised by mental health services. We must not just do better, but do differently.’

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Sanah Ahsan:
‘Violence is happening under the guise of care across all mental health services. This is only one example. People’s understandable distress is being medicalised and met with punishment. We need a radical transformation in our approach. One which centres on freedom and dignity, for those in distress.’

Professor of Clinical Psychology, Peter Kinderman:
‘We must not let these abuses get swept under the carpet like so many times before. These criminal tragedies need to stop, and we need political leadership to back our calls for a full-scale public enquiry into these abuses.’

CHARM is leading the calls for a fully independent public enquiry into the abuse in services run by Great Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust. Those who have experienced abuse or adverse experiences in mental health services are invited to come forward and share their testimonies which will be heard at a public meeting on Wednesday November 23rd in Manchester at 7.00pm.

For media interviews please contact
Paul Baker at

Signatories calling for a fully independent public inquiry:

You can show your support by adding your signature here

Paul Baker, Co-founder the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health (CHARM)

Professor Anandi Ramamurthy, researcher, writer & mother challenging racism & oppression in mental health services

Alan Hartman, Founder and Vice Chair of Manchester Users Group

Phillip A Smith, Retired Consultant OB/GYN & Victim of Psychiatric Trauma.

James Scurry, Psychotherapist & Co-founder, Safely Held Spaces

Tanya Frank, Author and mother of son in mental health services

Dr Lucy Johnstone, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Professor Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and a Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Sami Timimi, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Professor H. Spandler, Professor of Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire & Editor of Asylum Magazine.

Dr Sanah Ahsan, Liberation Psychologist, Poet, Writer & Lecturer

Dr Anna Crozier, ST7 Psychiatrist & Medical Psychotherapist

Dr Aruna Sahni, Consultant Intellectual Disability Psychiatrist

Eamonn Flynn, father, facilitator for families at Voice Collective, Trustee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis [ISPS UK]

Dr Tim Calton, Consultant Psychiatrist with lived experience of inpatient psychiatric care

Tam Martin Fowles, Founder Hope in the Heart CIC, Lived Experience Consultant/Trainer, Artist, Poet

Dr Hugh Middleton, Retired Consultant Psychiatrist

Ruth Dixon, Counsellor, Poet and daughter of mother who spent 49 years in mental health services

Benjamin Jones, Group coordinator, Rethink Manchester Dual Diagnosis group, and lived experience

Akiko Hart, Chief Executive, The National Survivor User Network (NSUN)

Dr Iyabo Fatimilehin, Chief Executive Officer & Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Just Psychology, Manchester

Alison Harris, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Tom Griffiths, Justice in Care

Nina Fedorski, Carer Support Worker, Manchester

Robert Lizar, Robert Lizar Solicitors

Jessica Pons, Psychotherapist & Peer Support Trainer in Manchester

Jane Lee, Family member and Occupational Therapist

Olatunde Spence, Art psychotherapist, Akoma Healing H’Arts, Manchester

Ellie Page, Arts & Mental Health Practitioner

Angela Young, Manchester Mental Health Charter Alliance

Mary Patel, volunteer mental health peer support co-ordinator

Dr Gail Coleman-Oluwabusola, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Director, FikaWelie Caribbean and African Mental Health Initiative

Karen Reismann, Mental Health Nurse and Union Activist

Kellie Stastny, Chair of INTERVOICE (International Hearing Voices Movement)

Jackie O’Neil, Lived Experience

Rita Horgan, Lived experience and professional mental health practitioner

Pia Feig, Pensioner activist/ Unison GMMH branch

Adrian Ball Manchester Settlement

Margaret Taylor Parent and carer of autistic adult

Artemis Christinaki Lecturer in Global Health, University of Manchester

Aimee Lived experience

Lisa Lightfoot Lived experience

Ashlyn Jones, Carer for husband

Dennis Queen, Lived experience as a psychiatric system patient, and experience of better community based services that don’t separate me from my family when I am in crisis

Emily Klomp, Carer for my partner who has Bipolar

Paul Reed, Manchester Users Network

Caroline Swift, Carer, lived experience

Tonia Maggs, Lived experience

Paul Fishwick, Former inpatient across various trusts including MMHSCT, Former Nursing Assistant and Student Nurse in Greater Manchester area, Rethink Mental Illness member

Sian Krawiec, CAMHS specialist nurse

Dr Owen Price, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, University of Manchester

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Disabled Peoples Organisation

Barbara Hulme, Former Disability Officer at Chorlton Branch of Labour Party and also Disabled person with physical and mental impairments

Navin Kikabhai, Chairperson, Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE)

GM Keep Our NHS Public

Lucia Backett, Retired public health nurse, activist, friend of someone who has recently come off a section at Park House

Pdf version here

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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