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The Winterbourne View Hospital scandal “vanishing pact”

Bill McKitterick (Bristol, UK)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to examine the discourse of the leadership of professional and public policy responses to the scandals of the care and treatment at the private Winterbourne View and NHS Calderstones Hospitals which demonstrates the lost learning from earlier attempts to provide humane care for the enduring numbers of people contained in similar settings.


An analysis of the use of general management and managerialism through commissioning, rather than a focus on pro-active self-leadership within professional practice or through collaborative, collegiate or distributed leadership has arguably been responsible for the lack of progress.


The emphasis on direction and action by government ministers, quangos, and managers across the NHS and local government has ignored and stifled the potential for initiative and self-leadership by professionals. This is notable for social work, aggravated by the absence of an engaged professional body for social workers.


This case study addresses the limitations of leadership approaches which focus on policy direction, general management, managerialist and commissioning approaches to the reform and delivery, contrasted with the potential of professionals self-leadership by practitioners.



McKitterick, B. (2016), "The Winterbourne View Hospital scandal “vanishing pact”", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 2-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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