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Found 111 results
  1. Content Article
    What is a Westminster Hall debate? Westminster Hall debates give Members of Parliament (MPs) an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister. Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate. Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry Vicky Ford MP opened this debate by raising concerns about the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry. This centred on a recent open letter from the inquiry's Chair, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, who stated that as a non-statutory inquiry she felt they would be unable to fulfil their terms of reference, due to extremely low engagement from staff at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. She had highlighted that, of the 14,000 members of staff whom the inquiry had written to, only 11 had agreed to give evidence. In the debate it was noted that Vicky Ford MP, Sir James Duddridge MP, Priti Patel MP and Sir John Whittingdale MP were now all calling for the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry to be converted into a full statutory inquiry, which will compel witnesses to give evidence, to ensure full transparency and greater public scrutiny of its progress. This debate was responded to on behalf of the Government by Neil O’Brien MP, Minister for Primary Care and Public Health. He noted that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care had recently met with Paul Scott, Chief Executive of Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, to ask about the actions the Trust is taking to encourage staff engagement with the inquiry and to seek assurance that the Trust will provide all the evidence and information requested by the inquiry. Regarding the potential of converting this into a statutory inquiry, he stated that: “Our view is that a non-statutory inquiry, if it is possible, remains the most effective way to get to the truth of what happens. It is quicker, and potentially involves not having to drag clinicians through the public processes of a statutory inquiry. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham was Home Secretary, she used the non-statutory process to protect those who did not want to be named and dragged through a statutory process. It is faster and more flexible, which is why it was chosen in the first place. Although statutory inquiries can compel witnesses to give evidence under oath, that does not necessarily mean that it will be easier to obtain the evidence we want. However, all that turns on people co-operating with a non-statutory inquiry, and we now need to see a quantum leap in the level of co-operation. We will not hesitate to move to a statutory inquiry if we do not see a dramatic increase in the level of co-operation. Given how long this has gone on, we cannot wait for a long period for a transformation in the level of engagement. While the approach remains non-statutory for now, we will not hesitate to change that approach if we do not see the change we need rapidly.”
  2. News Article
    A mental health trust has received a warning from the Care Quality Commission over staff sleeping on duty and other serious concerns. Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust was sent a “letter of intent”, which warns the CQC is considering taking urgent enforcement action, following an unannounced visit in November, according to a board report last week. The trust is already subject to a high-profile inquiry into hundreds of patient deaths. Natalie Hammond, executive nurse, said this would be “a fine tuning of our health roster which will be an early warning system that will determine and flag all staff members that may be at risk of working too much or their hours of working might perform a pattern that means they are at risk more of falling asleep on duty.” She added: “We’ve done learning lessons and videos that link the importance of being fit and alert for work and how when you’re not, what mitigation and what steps you should undertake and what risk there is to patient safety.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 February 2023
  3. Content Article
    The coroner raised the following matters of concern: Jeesal Cawston Park (JCP) Jeesal Akman Care Corporation was the care provider for JCP and closed in 2021. However, Jeesal Holdings Ltd, Jeesal Residential Care Services Ltd (JRCSL) and possibly other linked companies with the same directors, continue to provide residential care to persons with mental health illness, learning disabilities, complex needs and physical disability. The concerns raised at the inquest could apply to residential care offered by these companies and unless such concerns are addressed there is a risk that future deaths may occur. It is not known if the directors of these companies are directors of other companies providing care for persons with learning and other disabilities. CCTV was shown at the inquest which revealed Ben King had been assaulted in the hours prior to his death and also that 1 to 1 observation was not carried out in accordance with the Observations Policy. CCTV is a reliable means of ensuring that staff comply with Policies and residents are treated with dignity. CCTV is not available in many if not all of the residential homes owned by JHL and JRCSL. Basic dietary advice and guidance provided was not followed by staff. The use of the Dietician in training of staff was reduced in 2017 from one day’s training to an hour’s power point presentation. Important records were not completed by staff, eg Food intake, Exercise, Weight and vital observations. Evidence was heard that exercise was not regularly offered to Ben King and when the Sports Instructor was absent for lengthy periods of time, there was no replacement Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) Meetings were not held every 4 to 6 weeks as required. At MDT meetings which did take place, out of date weight measurements were recorded and relied upon for Ben. His increasing weight gain was not discussed at these meetings and weight loss was not set as a desirable or essential goal. JCP used the Pandora software system, (company Directors for Pandora are the same as for JHL and JRCSL) which is still used at the residential homes owned by JHL and JRCSL. Concerns were raised at the inquest in respect of this software system in that not all policies and documents were available to staff on the IPads provided, some of the documents were unwieldy and difficult to read (for example, Personal Healthcare Plan), the Dietician recommended use of paper records in respect of Food and Fluid intake as these would be more accessible to staff and encourage the documents to be completed or in the alternative providing for the records on Ipads to be more easy to access and complete. The internal investigation carried out following Mr Ben King’s death did not capture the concerns raised at inquest. Evidence was heard that no substantive changes have been made at the residential homes owned by JHL and JRCSL following the death of Ben King and the closure of JCP to deal with these concerns. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) Guidance was sought by Emergency Department (ED) when Ben King attended on 10 July 2020 from a Respiratory Consultant, who was not made aware that Ben King had attended some 6 hours earlier with the same symptoms. The Respiratory on call consultant was not contacted when Mr King returned to NNUH two days later on the 12 July 2020 with the same symptoms. At the time of Ben King’s attendance at NNUH, Ben King was under the Respiratory Team and had been seen a few days earlier, on 3 July 2020. The Respiratory Team was not made aware of Ben King’s attendances at ED on 9, 10 or 12 July 2020 with respiratory problems. Advice given on discharge appears to be unclear and contradictory. The expert Respiratory Consultant referred to the advice as being “inadequate, unclear and inaccurate” On the Discharge Form provided on 9 July 2020 it is noted “Plan – home as Ben is back to normal, self, red flags and safety netting covered, to return in the event of any difficulty.” On discharge from ED on 10 July 2020 (second occasion) the hospital record states that Ben King is to return home, encouraged to lose weight, fluids are to be encouraged and “with no need to monitor his sats unless clinically unwell with sats in 60s%”. Not all of this information was included in the Discharge Form on 10 July 2020: The Discharge Form provided under “Other” - “seen by respiratory team, they are happy to send him home, they have clerked their advice on the paper. CPAP and O2” On 12 July 2020 the Discharge Plan provided “Home”. The advice from the Respiratory Consultant seen on 3 July 2020 was for CPAP to stop. Evidence was heard from the Care staff at JCP that they were unclear as to what the plan was with regard to Ben and specifically as to when Ben was to be returned to Hospital. One of the Doctors at JCP contacted the ED, NNUH to try to ascertain what the advice was and was unable to get any substantive response. Email contact was made with the Respiratory Team but no response was received until after Ben King’s death on 28 July 2020. The section headed “Drug History” was not completed on the Discharge Form on Ben King’s attendances on 9 or 12 July 2020. On 10 July, it states “nil significant”. This is despite Ben King being prescribed Promethazine, a sedative medication, affecting the respiratory system. Evidence was heard that not all prescribed medications could be expected to be included in “the small space” provided. That this is a medication where consideration would have been given to a risk/benefit analysis but there was no evidence of any such analysis. Regulation 28 evidence was that not all medication can be listed; only “pertinent” medication. Promethazine would appear to be such a medication. Arterial and venous blood gas samples were taken from Ben King on his attendances on 9 and 10 July 2020, which the Respiratory Consultant said in evidence were incomparable (although this was not the evidence of the Expert Respiratory Consultant). No blood gas samples were taken on the 12 July 2020. A copy of this report was sent to: The Chief Coroner Clinical Commissioning Group Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Review Group Care Quality Commission Department of Health Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) Healthwatch - Norfolk
  4. Content Article
    Yvonne had experienced mental health problems since childhood and was considered originally to have a personality disorder. She was treated by mental health services for many years and had several inpatient admissions, some of which were compulsory. After a period of self-neglect and refused admission, Yvonne was finally detained under the Mental Health Act on 27 January 2020 at Park House Psychiatric unit, Manchester. On admission she was found to be significantly malodorous and have several long-standing serious deep infected ulcers. She had to be transferred to the acute hospital for assessment and treatment where her condition gradually improved and she was given prophylactic venous thromboembolism (VTE) medication until she was medically fit enough to be discharged back to the psychiatric unit on 12 February 2020. When she was readmitted, despite discharge information from the acute hospital stating that she had been treated with VTE prophylaxis and despite Yvonne fulfilling several trigger criteria, a VTE risk assessment was not undertaken in accordance with the detaining authorities’ policy. There was a failure to monitor her condition and make appropriate records or an action and management plan and she did not have further mental capacity assessments. On 19 February 2020 she was again detained and on the morning of 23 February 2020, she had a cardiorespiratory arrest and was resuscitated for a brief period of time before being taken to the emergency department of North Manchester General Hospital. Further attempts at resuscitation proved unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead due to a pulmonary thromboembolism. The Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) serious incident investigation failed to establish: whether the responsible clinician, junior doctors or nursing staff were aware of the trusts VTE policy and if not, why not. if they were aware of it, why was it not complied with. whether there was an awareness and compliance with the policy Trust wide. It also failed to identify, acknowledge or be aware of the death of a patient in 2016 from a VTE at Park House unit. In their report, the Coroner raised the following matters of concern: There was a lack of appropriate safeguarding review, Senior clinical oversight as well as necessary MDT meetings and actions to be completed. It did not appear that all permanent or locum clinical and nursing staff Trust-wide were aware of the VTE policy and how it should be implemented including initial assessments and reassessments of the risks as well as consequent medical management. There was no regular audit of compliance with the VTE policy. There was no training programme to ensure familiarity and compliance. A copy of the report was sent to the Chief Coroner.
  5. News Article
    Ministers have ordered an inquiry into the quality of care in mental health inpatient units in England after a series of scandals in which vulnerable patients were abused or neglected. Maria Caulfield, the mental health minister, announced the establishment of a “rapid review” in a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons on Monday. The inquiry “is an essential first step in improving safety in mental health inpatient settings”, she said. In recent years, coroners and the Care Quality Commission, the NHS care watchdog, have repeatedly raised concerns about dangerously inadequate care that inpatients have received. It will examine the evidence of “patient safety risks and failures in care” in units that hold and treat patients who have serious conditions including psychosis and personality disorder. It will look in particular at evidence of failings brought forward by patients and their families and how better use of data can help show that care has fallen below acceptable levels. The inquiry will be headed by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, a psychiatrist who used to be NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health. She is likely to look at problems including patients being subjected to controversial restraint techniques, left at risk of being able to take their own lives and segregated from fellow inpatients, and the impact of their experiences on their recovery. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 January 2023
  6. Content Article
    In this statement the Minister sets out that the rapid review will: Focus on data and evidence currently available to healthcare services, including information provided by patients and families. Consider how this data and evidence can be used more effectively to identify patient safety risks and failures in care. Be chaired by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, who is also the Chair of the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry. The review will be separate from, but complementary to, the Essex Inquiry.
  7. News Article
    Police are investigating allegations of rape of a child involving two staff members at a scandal-hit mental health hospital, The Independent can reveal. Thames Valley Police confirmed it has launched an investigation after a report last month of rape made by a former patient of Taplow Manor, a private hospital in Maidenhead, Berkshire, run by The Huntercombe Group. The incident was reported to have taken place in 2019. Mark McGhee, a solicitor for Hutcheon Law, who is representing the family of the patient in a clinical negligence claim, said the allegation had been raised to the police about the patient who was a child and that the allegation involves two staff members at the time. In October, The Independent and Sky News revealed allegations of “systemic abuse” from 20 patients across The Huntercombe Group’s children’s mental health hospitals – Taplow Manor, Ivetsey Bank near Stafford, Watcombe Hall in Torquay, and The Huntercombe Hospital Norwich. Since the report, 30 more patients have come forward with allegations of poor treatment and the provider now also faces nine legal claims from former patients. Thames Valley Police are also investigating an incident involving the death of a child at the Maidenhead hospital in February. The CQC is conducting a separate criminal investigation into the serious incident which resulted in the death of the young person. Read full story Source: The Independent, 19 December 2022
  8. News Article
    Increasing numbers of emotionally troubled children have been taken into care while waiting long periods for NHS treatment because their condition deteriorated to the point where their parents could no longer cope with their behaviour, child protection bosses have revealed. Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) president Steve Crocker said that since the pandemic, youngsters with complex emotional needs had become a significant factor in rising child protection referrals. “We are seeing children in the social care system because they have not been supported in the [NHS] mental health system,” he said. Crocker urged ministers to “do better” for children facing “unacceptable” delays in NHS mental health treatment, adding that it was not uncommon for waiting lists to involve waits of over a year. Councils were “filling gaps” in NHS provision but struggling to find placements for children with severe behavioural problems, and when they did, typically paid “untenable” fees of tens of thousands of pounds a week. He accused private children’s residential care providers and their “rapacious” hedge fund backers of “profiteering” from the care crisis, and urged the government to intervene to cap typical profit margins that were currently about 20%. “We do not see how this can be allowed to continue,” he said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 December 2022
  9. News Article
    Ministers are considering the use of body cameras within mental health units as part of the government’s response to NHS abuse scandals, The Independent has learned. Senior sources with knowledge of the conversation between the Department for Health and Social Care and the NHS have raised concerns about the plans. There are fears that using the technology in mental health units could have implications for human rights and patient confidentiality. One senior figure criticised the proposals and said: “The DHSC are all talking about body-worn cameras, closed circuit TV, etc... The whole thing is fraught with huge difficulties regarding human rights, about confidentiality. They are thinking about it [cameras] and it is ridiculous.” The DHSC’s mental health minister Maria Caulfield said in parliament earlier this month that she and health secretary Steve Barclay were due to meet with NHS officials to discuss what response was needed to recent exposes of abuse within mental health services. It comes after a string of reports from The Independent, BBC Panorama and Dispatches revealing abuse of inpatients. The Panorama and Dispatches reports included video evidence of abuse captured by hidden cameras. Following a scathing independent review into the deaths of three young women, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust said it is piloting the use of body-worn cameras across 10 inpatient wards “to support post incident reviews for staff and patients.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 November 2022
  10. News Article
    Children say they were “treated like animals” and left traumatised as part of a decade of “systemic abuse” by a group of mental health hospitals, an investigation by The Independent and Sky News has found. The Department of Health and Social Care has now launched a probe into the allegations of 22 young women who were patients in units run by The Huntercombe Group, which has run at least six children’s mental health hospitals, between 2012 and this year. They say they suffered treatment including the use of “painful” restraints and being held down for hours by male nurses, being stopped from going outside for months and living in wards with blood-stained walls. They also allege they were given so much medication they had become “zombies” and were force-fed. Through witness testimony, documents obtained by Freedom of Information request and leaked reports, the investigation has uncovered: The CQC has received more than 700 whistleblowing and safeguarding reports, including “incidents of concern” and several “sexual safety” concerns. NHS England was notified of 195 safeguarding reports between 2020 and 2021. A 2018 internal report at Meadow Lodge hospital in Newton Abbot (now closed) found staff members using sexually inappropriate language in front of patients. 160 reports investigated by Staffordshire police about Huntercombe Staffordshire between 2015 and 2022. Between March 2021 and 2022, the CQC gave permission for 29 patients to be admitted to Maidenhead hospital after it was placed in special measures. Read full story Source: The Independent, 17 November 2022
  11. News Article
    Hundreds of mental health patients in England are sent to hospitals miles from home each month because of local bed shortages - more than a year after the NHS aimed to end the practice. NHS data shows that 630 patients were in inappropriate out of area placements (OAPs) at the end of August 2022. An inappropriate OAP is when someone is sent to a hospital in a different area because no beds are free locally. Of the 630 patients in inappropriate OAPs in August 2022, more than half were sent away that month. In 2019, Kelly was sectioned and - because no local bed was free - sent to a hospital 23 miles from her home. "I didn't have anything on me", she says, "I only had my phone and the clothes that I was in." With family members too far away to bring her possessions, the hospital provided basics: pyjamas, trousers, a T-shirt, one pair of socks and two pieces of underwear. "All I could wear were the pyjamas and the same top and trousers every day for three weeks," says Kelly. "It was just awful. When you're stuck in a strange place as it is... It's even more distressing not having your own familiar things to take comfort in." Shortly after her discharge, Kelly was sectioned again - this time closer to home. She says this made a "massive difference", adding: "When you're closer to home you've got your friends and your family coming to visit you and take you out for a walk." Paul Spencer, the charity Mind's head of health, policy & campaigns, describes OAPs as traumatic, isolating and costly to the NHS. He says that "people are cut off from their support networks right at the very moment they need them most". Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 November 2022
  12. News Article
    Whistle-blowers have described neglect, patient-on-patient assault and staff who bully colleagues and sleep on the job at a troubled mental health ward. Sources told a BBC investigation that a patient of 25-bed, mixed-gender Hill Crest Ward in Redditch, Worcestershire, suffered a broken jaw during one clash. They also claimed three nurses were "forced out" amid bullying behaviour. The NHS trust that runs Hill Crest said it believed changes there were having a positive impact. Accounts have been corroborated via five independent sources to whom the BBC spoke. They follow reports earlier this year of a fire and an incident in which staff locked themselves in an office when a patient ran around armed with boiling water and sugar. Additionally, one patient has provided the BBC with images alleged to show the effects of her battering herself out of desperation - without staff intervening. Sources also described staff being bullied, with one saying a nurse who particularly suffered had her resignation letter read out and mocked by tormentors. Sources independently complained of the workplace culture, with the BBC aware of explicit images bearing lewd comments about colleagues. Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 November 2022
  13. News Article
    A growing number of children with mental health problems are being treated on adult psychiatric wards as services struggle to cope with a surge in demand following the pandemic, the NHS watchdog has warned. There were 249 admissions of under-18s to adult psychiatric wards in England in 2021-22, according to data provided by NHS trusts to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), up 30% on the year before. Of the children admitted to adult wards, 58% of cases were because the child needed to be admitted immediately for their safety. But in more than a quarter of cases, 27%, the child was admitted to the adult ward because there was no alternative child inpatient or community outreach service available. The findings come more than 15 years after the government set a target to end inappropriate admissions of children to adult psychiatric wards. The number of admissions gradually reduced but has now risen again, the CQC figures suggest. Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the figures were “a concern but not a surprise. We’ve got a lot of children and young people who have become more unwell. Services are really struggling to meet their needs,” she said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 30 October 2022
  14. News Article
    A whistleblower at a mental health trust criticised over the deaths of three teenagers has said bosses ignored workers when they raised concerns. Christie Harnett and Nadia Sharif, both 17, and Emily Moore, 18, who were friends, all took their own lives within eight months of each other. The whistleblower said agency workers fell asleep on duty at Middlesbrough's West Lane Hospital and staff struggled "to keep children alive". The trust has apologised for failings. Reports into the women's care found 120 failings at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), which ran the hospital, and other agencies. Speaking after the reports were published, the health trust worker, who did not wish to be identified, told the BBC staff were "ignored" when they tried to warn bosses about conditions in the hospital. "Staff repeatedly raised concerns with managers, some of the time we just didn't have enough staff to keep the children safe," the worker said. "We warned them something serious was going to happen, but they just ignored us. "Senior managers looked at numbers, rather than the skillset that staff actually had. "The agency staff would sometimes fall asleep on duty or watch the telly rather than engage with patients." Read full story Source: BBC News, 4 November 2022
  15. News Article
    Ministers may order a public inquiry into mental health care and patient deaths across England because of the number of scandals that are emerging involving poor treatment. Maria Caulfield, the minister for mental health, told MPs on Thursday that she and the health secretary, Steve Barclay, were considering whether to launch an inquiry because the same failings were occurring so often in so many different parts of the country. They would make a final decision “in the coming days”, she said in the House of Commons, responding to an urgent question tabled by her Labour shadow, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan. An independent investigation found this week that that three teenage girls – Christie Harnett, 17, Nadia Sharif, 17, and Emily Moore, 18 – took their own lives within the space of eight months after receiving inadequate care from the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys (TEWV) NHS mental health trust in north-east England. They died after “multifaceted and systemic failings” by the trust, especially at its West Lane hospital in Middlesbrough, the inquiry found. Allin-Khan pointed to a series of scandals that have come to light, often through media investigations, about dangerously substandard mental health care being provided by NHS services and also private firms in England, including in Essex and in Greater Manchester. “Patients are dying, being bullied, dehumanised, abused and their medical records are being falsified, a scandalous breach of patient safety,” Allin-Khan said. “The government has failed to learn from past failings.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 3 November 2022
  16. News Article
    Results from the recently published Community Mental Health Survey highlight that issues with access to services and support, as evidenced in the 2020 and 2021 surveys, continue to persist. The 2022 Community Mental Health Survey – coordinated by Picker for the Care Quality Commission – collected feedback from more than 13,400 people in contact with services between September and November 2021. The survey is an important source of information to help us understand the quality of person-centred care provided to mental health service users. A key feature of a high-quality person centred mental health service is timely access to care. The survey shows that there is more to be done here to ensure that service users have a good experience as nearly a third (31%) reported not being told who was in charge of organising their care and services – up from 28% in 2021. In parallel with this, 30% of service users said that they had not seen NHS mental health services enough in the last 12 months (compared to 27% in 2021 and 24% in 2020) and only 55% said they were given enough time to discuss their needs and treatment. Just over half of service users (51%) said that they did not receive any help or advice with finding support for financial advice or benefits – a 3% point increase from last year’s survey. When asked a similar question regarding support for finding or keeping work, 50% said they did not receive help or advice but would have liked it. With the financial worries that the increased cost of living is causing for many people, signposting support and advice for employment, managing money, and claiming benefits are vital for helping people maintain good mental health. Commenting on the results, Jenny King, Picker’s Chief Research Officer, said: “On the 22nd September 2022, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Deputy Prime Minister at the time, Thérèse Coffey, announced the UK government’s Our plan for patients. Whilst it notes that work will continue to improve the availability of mental health support through expansion of services, there was little detail on how this would be achieved and how backlogs of care in mental health services would be resolved. With the backdrop of the cost of living crisis and its impact on people’s mental health, the findings from this survey highlight the urgent need for more to be done to address accessibility issues. And not just in mental health services but across health and social care where, as highlighted by CQC’s 2021/22 State of Care report, people are waiting too long for appointments, assessments, and treatment. Without a plan for tackling the NHS’s workforce crisis, the ability to make sustainable service improvements to address the unmet need is severely restricted.” Read full story Source: Picker, 27 October 2022
  17. News Article
    Ministers have been urged to launch a public inquiry into the care of mental health patients after The Independent revealed allegations that patients had suffered “systemic abuse” in inpatient units. A joint investigation with Sky News found that teenagers at facilities run by The Huntercombe Group had been left with post-traumatic stress disorder by their treatment despite hundreds of warnings to regulators and the NHS. Now the government is facing calls to review all mental health care services over fears that these cases are “the tip of the iceberg”. Labour’s shadow mental health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has called for a “rapid review” by the government into inpatient mental health services, while Deborah Coles, the chief executive of charity Inquest, has called on the new health secretary Steve Barclay to launch a statutory public inquiry. Read full story Source: The Independent, 28 October 2022
  18. News Article
    Children say they were "treated like animals" and left traumatised as part of a decade of “systemic abuse” by a group of mental health hospitals, an investigation by The Independent and Sky News has found. The Department of Health and Social Care has now launched a probe into the allegations of 22 young women who were patients in units run by The Huntercombe Group, which has run at least six children’s mental health hospitals, between 2012 and this year. They say they suffered treatment including the use of “painful” restraints and being held down for hours by male nurses, being stopped from going outside for months and living in wards with blood-stained walls. They also allege they were given so much medication they had become “zombies” and were force-fed. But despite reports to police and regulators dating back seven years, and findings by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that the units were inadequate, the NHS has still handed Huntercombe nearly £190m since 2015-16 to admit children to its mental health beds. Through witness testimony, documents obtained by Freedom of Information request and leaked reports, the investigation has uncovered: The CQC has received more than 700 whistleblowing and safeguarding reports, including “incidents of concern” and several “sexual safety” concerns. NHS England was notified of 195 safeguarding reports between 2020 and 2021. A 2018 internal report at Meadow Lodge hospital in Newton Abbot (now closed) found staff members using sexually inappropriate language in front of patients. 160 reports investigated by Staffordshire police about Huntercombe Staffordshire between 2015 and 2022. Between March 2021 and 2022, the CQC gave permission for 29 patients to be admitted to Maidenhead hospital after it was placed in special measures. Read full story Source: The Independent, 27 October 2022
  19. News Article
    A shocking undercover investigation has laid bare appalling failures in patient care on Britain’s mental health wards. Reporters from Channel 4’s Dispatches programme spent three months secretly filming at one of the UK’s biggest mental health trusts – Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. The footage reveals horrifying abuses of vulnerable residents on two acute mental health wards. It includes patients being dragged across the floor, pinned down by staff, mocked while they are in distress and humiliated. On one occasion, a patient who is at high risk of suicide and supposed to be under constant supervision is left unattended and makes an attempt on their own life. Another chaotic scene involves staff trying to locate a crucial bag of specialist cutting devices to save the life of a female patient who got hold of a ligature, after a carer failed to keep watch. In one distressing example, a young woman being treated for anorexia – who is heard hyperventilating with fear – is dragged across the floor by her arms. When she is later discovered making a suicide attempt, she is pinned down by five carers for 40 minutes. As the woman lies sobbing on the floor, one of the staff members discusses the success of his latest diet. Another carer laughs as she marks the rhythm of the woman’s laboured breathing with her hands. The damning footage raises fresh concerns about the state of treatment for the most mentally unwell in this country. While the Essex Trust is just one of 54 across England, mental health professionals and families warn that such failures are widespread. Former mental health nurse Julie Repper, director of imROC, an organisation that helps improve patients’ experiences in mental health services, describes events in the film as ‘literally abusive’. "I asked the peer support workers we train about their experiences of the system, and they described seeing repeated ligaturing, people being dragged by their feet and being restrained. It’s ubiquitous". "These units are supposed to keep people safe, but this film shows they’re not. Everybody has a stake in seeing this improve, because every single one of us may become overwhelmed at some point and find we hit a crisis." Read full story Source: MailOnline, 10 October 2022
  20. News Article
    An appeal to establish a dedicated Mother and Baby Perinatal Mental Health Unit will be delivered to the Nothern Ireland health minister later. Individual women, charities and other organisations will hand over a public letter urging Robin Swann to act. Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK which has no dedicated in-patient service for women with serious post-partum mental health issues. The units admit mothers with their babies so that they can be with them. About 70 women a year in Northern Ireland are admitted to hospital with post-partum psychosis. The health minister approved some funding for perinatal mental health last year. However, no decision has been made on in-patient services. Read full story Source: BBC, 10 October 2022
  21. News Article
    The NHS’ mental health director has branded abuse exposed at a city inpatient unit as “heartbreaking and shameful” and ordered a national review of safety across all providers. In a letter to all leaders of mental health, learning disability and autism providers, shared with HSJ, Claire Murdoch responded to BBC Panorama’s exposure of patient abuse at the Edenfield Centre run by Greater Manchester Mental Health FT by warning trusts they should leave “no stone unturned” in seeking to eradicate and prevent poor care. An investigation by the programme found a “toxic culture of humiliation, verbal abuse and bullying” at the medium-secure inpatient unit in Prestwich near Manchester. In response, Ms Murdoch said the mindset that “it could happen here” must be at the front and centre of national and local approaches, adding that trusts which already adopt this outlook are most likely to identify and prevent toxic and closed cultures. She also urged all boards to urgently review safeguarding of care in their organisations and identify any immediate issues requiring action now, such as freedom to speak up arrangements, complaints, and care and treatment reviews. A separate national probe into the quality of inpatient care is due to launch imminently. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 30 September 2022
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