NINE former members of staff at an independent hospital in County Durham are to appear in court in relation to allegations of abuse.

Six men and three women have been summoned to court to face charges relating to alleged physical and psychological abuse at Whorlton Hall, an independently-run learning disability/autism hospital, near Barnard Castle specialising in care for vulnerable patients. 

Each of the accused will face a charge, or multiple charges, of Ill Treatment or Wilful Neglect of an Individual by a Care Worker (under Section 20 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015).

The suspects, aged between 24 and 53, are from Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Newton Aycliffe, Startforth and Kelloe.

All nine are scheduled to appear before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on November 9.

The Northern Echo: Whorlton Hall, near Barnard Castle, has been boarded up following its closureWhorlton Hall, near Barnard Castle, has been boarded up following its closure

Read more: Report on CQC lfollowing Whorlton Hall abuse scandal

The charges follow a long-running investigation by Durham Constabulary – codenamed Operation Sarto - into allegations of abuse of patients at the hospital reported in a BBC Panorama documentary in 2019.

Detectives investigating the case have worked through a significant amount of complex material relating to the patients who were cared for at the hospital and there has been detailed consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.

From the outset of the investigation, the police have also worked closely with a range of safeguarding agencies to ensure that the patients were safely accommodated and receiving appropriate care. Professional support has been offered to patients and their families.

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