AN UNDERCOVER investigation into alleged abuse at a County Durham care home will be the subject of a BBC documentary being shown tomorrow.

The BBC's Panorama has carried out an investigation into alleged abuse at Whorlton Hall, near Barnard Castle.

Allegations of physical and psychological abuse emerged earlier this month, when a police investigation was launched.

The programme will air on BBC 1 at 9pm tomorrow.

Entitled Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal, it features footage, obtained by reporter Olivia Davies, purporting to show patients with autism and learning disabilities being deliberately  provoked by staff who then physically restrain them.

The facility, which is run by Cygnet Health Care, provides specialist care for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs.

An email, which has been seen by the Northern Echo, was sent to members of Durham County Council warning them about the programme.

Sent by Jane Robinson, corporate director, adult and health services, it said: “Following my email last week, I am writing to update you on Whorlton Hall independent hospital, operated by Cygnet Health Care in Barnard Castle.

“We have been made aware that the BBC is planning to broadcast an episode of Panorama on Wednesday, 22 May at 9pm, which will focus on the allegations of alleged physical and psychological abuse which are currently the subject of an investigation by police.

“I would, once again, like to reassure you that these allegations are being taken very seriously and that the welfare and wellbeing of patients remains paramount.

“We continue to work closely with the police, the provider and our NHS partners towards this aim, ensuring that patients are safe and that safeguarding policies and procedures are being followed.”

A number of staff working at the home have been suspended.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is investigating concerns about the service.