Featured

Solidarity Vigil for Edenfield – End The Abuse -We Need a Public Inquiry

CHARM held a “solidarity” vigil outside Manchester Central Library for all those affected by the abuse exposed by the BBC Panorama documentary.

See our public statement

CHARM CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO EDENFIELD AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN GREATER MANCHESTER

CHARM has been calling for a root and branch review of services for the last two years, because of the failings in community and hospital services in the region. We have not been listened to.

Vigil outside the Central Reference Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester

The documentary as expected was shocking. The abusive behaviour of a group of staff toward very vulnerable people in their care was inexcusable and the regime itself inhumane.

Dozens of health campaigners, service users and some current and former NHS staff joined us at the vigil in the city centre.

Speakers at the event reiterated calls for an independent public inquiry.

At the vigil we wanted to make it clear we need to create a mental health service that is compassionate, holistic and founded on human rights.

The vigil was an opportunity to stand alongside the victims and their families and friends and to share our support and express our pain and concerns.

When Alice, one of the patients featured in the documentary was placed in seclusion she wasn’t allowed to have her soft toys with her.

The denial of her soft toys that comforted her was a particularly stark example of the toxic culture of the hospital. We brought our soft toys as a symbol of the compassion that needs to be at the centre of any care.

Featured

CHARM Latest News

Communities for Holistic Accessible Rights based Mental Health

We are a campaign calling for changes in the way psychiatric services are provided in Greater Manchester.
We’ve teamed up with people with lived experience, workers, trade unions, family groups and citizens 
We are calling for a root and branch review and an action plan to transform mental health services in our communities.
Can you help? Contact us here

The Do it For Dan Pennine Way Walk ’22

Jeff Evans is raising £2,000 to Raise awareness of and funds for better public mental health care.

Jeff Evans has very kindly offered CHARM half of the money he raises this year during the The Do it For Dan Pennine Way Walk ’22

The aim of this fundraiser is to:

1) promote informed discussion and awareness of the importance of maintaining good mental health.

2) Raise funds for the mental health charity CALM & the grassroots mental health campaign group CHARM

We can all help Jeff reach his target by clicking on the Crowdfunder link above and making a donation.


Reports
Crisis in Manchester Services update

Co-design Collaboratives for “Living Well” update
On the 22nd April we were notified that “the senior leaders who sit ‘above’ the Collaboratives, which includes CCG and MCC commissioners, GMMH leads, and various VCSE CEOs, notably of MIND, MACC and 42nd St. held a meeting and decided that further work at their level is necessary (essentially to develop their vision and governance arrangements, and for them to further understand what the data and ethnographic research is telling them) so that they can support, assist and shape the work on which we are about to embark and have directed the Operational Managers to pause the Collaborative meetings in Central, North and South Manchester.”

Equalities – Why no women’s only rehabilitation services provided by GMMH

Wider issues re. national picture on outsourcing to private sector and poor quality of services

GM Integrated Care Commissioning System -what do we know?


Featured

Coroners warned of mental health care failings in dozens of inquests

Observer investigation identifies 56 cases in which patients lost their lives after being unable to access the help that they needed.

Shortfalls in mental health services and staffing have been flagged as concerns in dozens of inquests since 2015, the Observer can reveal, with coroners issuing repeated warnings over patients facing long waiting lists or falling through gaps in service provision.

The Observer has identified 56 mental health-related deaths in England and Wales from the start of 2015 to the end of 2020 where coroners identified a lack of staffing or service provision as a “matter of concern”, meaning they believed “there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken”.

Coroners issue Reports to Prevent Future Deaths (PFD) when they believe action should be taken to prevent deaths occurring in future, and send them to relevant individuals or organisations, who are expected to respond. In one case, a woman referred to psychotherapy services had still not received any psychotherapy by the time she died 11 months later. In another, someone had endured a seven-month wait for a psychological assessment.Advertisementhttps://fccdde4c2292aba023508c38b58b4ba6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Alison Cobb, senior policy and campaigns officer at the mental health charity Mind, said: “It’s shocking that so many should lose their lives because there isn’t enough capacity in mental health services to provide adequate care. These prevention of future deaths notices are meant to inform better ways of working, and it’s especially concerning that similar stories are repeating over and over again.”

Many of the cases are suicides. The causes of suicide are complex, and there is rarely a single event or factor behind them. PFD reports do not set out to identify why someone decided to take their own life, and rarely go so far as saying that a particular factor made death more likely by denying the victim the necessary support.

However, in the PFD report for a man who died in December 2019, the coroner wrote that moves to admit the victim as an informal patient at the hospital’s psychiatric unit floundered as “there were no beds available in Suffolk, or anywhere else in the country at the time”.

The coroner wrote: “Had a bed been available and had [he] been admitted as he and medical staff had wished on the evening of the 16 December 2019, his death would not have occurred.”

In another case, the PFD report for a 15-year-old boy who died in October 2018 warned of a lack of NHS services for autism and a “severe shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds for children and adolescents in the NHS”.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, said: “The Conservatives have cut a quarter of mental health beds since 2010. This has put the NHS at breaking point, with devastating consequences for people’s lives.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy and we are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the services when they need them.

“We are expanding and transforming mental health services in England, backed by £2.3bn a year by 2023-24, including £57m of investment in suicide prevention by 2023-24 to support local suicide-prevention plans and the establishment of suicide bereavement services in every area of the country.”

See full article here

Source: The Observer, September 2021

Featured

“Unless similar units cease to receive public money, such lethal outcomes will persist” says independent report into deaths of adults with learning disabilities at hospital

An independent report into the deaths of King, Nicholas Briant, 33, and 36-year-old Joanna Bailey, who all died at Cawston Park, said their relatives described “indifferent and harmful hospital practices”.

The report, published on Thursday, makes reference to “excessive use of restraint and seclusion by unqualified staff” and a “high tolerance of inactivity”.

“Unless this hospital and similar units cease to receive public money, such lethal outcomes will persist,” the report said.

How many people from Greater Manchester are living in Units like this?

The report into the deaths at Cawston Park has made 13 recommendations to a series of agencies including the Law Commission, suggesting a review of the law around private companies caring for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

“Given the clear public interest in ensuring the wellbeing and safety of patients, and the public sponsorship involved, the Law Commission may wish to consider whether corporate responsibility should be based on corporate conduct, in addition to that of individuals, for example,” the report said.

Flynn, who was commissioned by Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board (NSAB) to write the report, said the report highlighted “failures of governance, commissioning, oversight, planning for individuals and professional practice”.

See full article here

Source: The Guardian, 9th September 2021

‘Lessons will be learned’? Responding to Panorama’s documentary on abuses at the Edenfield Centre

It should never require a television documentary to shock a society into acting on institutional abuses in any public service, let alone those treating people who are at their most vulnerable and traumatised. Yet sadly it too often does. This week’s Panorama programme exposing serious abuses at the medium secure Edenfield Centre in Greater Manchester joins a litany of similar programmes that have forced the public to confront the consequences of a failure to provide care that meets basic standards of human decency.

The programme was distressing viewing for anyone. For some, it will have opened their eyes to abuse that has been happening in institutions for as long as they have been a part of our mental health care system. For people living with a mental health difficulty and their families, it will have been unimaginably traumatic to witness this abusive treatment; while for some it will be all too painfully reminiscent of their own experiences.

We need to ask why this continues to happen in our NHS in 2022. We all know, theoretically, that mental health is not given ‘parity’ in the NHS or in health policy generally as much as it should be. But most people are rarely confronted with the evidence of what happens as a result of this inequity. It is well known that using closed institutional responses and coercive approaches to human distress create stark power imbalances that leave individuals at risk of being abused, mistreated and traumatised. But too often those experiences are not acknowledged or addressed without the watching eye of national television.

After documentaries like this week’s Panorama, we often hear from leaders that ‘lessons will be learned’, that it will be a ‘turning point’. It’s what we heard after the exposures of abuse at Winterbourne View and elsewhere. So what will be different this time? Will we finally get fair funding for mental health services in every area of the NHS? Will the Government and Parliament modernise the Mental Health Act to create stronger safeguards for people’s safety and dignity, including in secure services? Will commissioners and providers of institutional services make real changes to their practices and cultures to prevent abuse from occurring? Will they listen with compassion when people speak about the abuse they’ve been subjected to?

This is the responsibility of the whole of the NHS, not just mental health services. It’s the responsibility of government. And it’s the responsibility of civil society too. We all have to act to ensure that mental health services are safe, compassionate and just. We cannot turn a blind eye to closed cultures, restrictive practices and abuses of power. This is on all of us.

Full story here

Source: Centre For Mental Health, 29/01/2022

CHARM CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO EDENFIELD AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN GREATER MANCHESTER 

The patients at Edenfield regional secure unit are amongst the most vulnerable people in our society. What we saw in the BBC Panorama programme was shocking but not surprising. The lack of humanity and compassion, the over-use and inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint and failures to ensure the safe dispensing of medication are inexcusable. Senior management within Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust have failed to even see the toxic culture revealed by the documentary of a service only one mile from their offices. 

Our thoughts are with those who are victims of the abuse and their families. We know that it is hard to speak out and we know that brave individuals have done so, so that others do not suffer what they have had to endure. 

However, it is important to recognise that these failings are not restricted to the Edenfield Unit. These issues are systemic.  CHARM has been calling for a root and branch review of services for the last two years, because of the failings in community and hospital services in the region. We have not been listened to.

In Manchester our experience has been that the Trust places its professional reputation before openness and transparency. There have been multiple critical incidences in community and inpatient services over the last two years. At Park House in October 2022 a patient was stabbed and will never recover. The Central Community teams have been declared inadequate by the CQC in February 2023. We have been tracking the failure and challenges facing services throughout Greater Manchester through Mental Health Trust Watch where we have recorded information on dozens of incidents.  Our evidence highlights that failings are widespread, with public and private hospitals in the Greater Manchester who treat NHS patients also declared needing improvement, inadequate or placed in special measures. Currently these include Priory Cheadle; Cygnet Bury; Cygnet Lodge Salford; Eleanor Independent Hospital. The state of services are leading to experienced and dedicated staff leaving the Trust and other mental health services. 

Enough is enough.

We call on senior management of Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust to resign.

We call for a fully independent public inquiry into mental health services provided in Greater Manchester. 

We also support Mind’s call for a full statutory public inquiry into systemic failings of inpatient mental health services across England. 

Charm.mentalhealth@gmail.com

https://charmmentalhealth.org/

Edenfield: mental health in crisis

A protest bringing together around fifty people at very short notice took place outside Manchester Central Library on Thursday, 29 September. This was following an undercover BBC investigation that revealed abuse inside the Edenfield Centre in north Manchester. This was widely reported in the local press and nationally. The undercover reporter was employed as a healthcare support worker, and covertly filmed patients being restrained, sworn at, humiliated, and placed in seclusion.

There were banners from Unison and from the Manchester Users Network, from which Alan Hartman and Paul Reed spoke at the protest. The Tory MP Christian Wakeford (who jumped ship to join Labour after being elected), whose constituency includes Edenfield, also spoke, calling for a public inquiry.

The Manchester Central Library protest was organised by CHARM (Communities for Holistic Accessible Rights-based Mental health). CHARM was set up precisely to combat the attempts to condense mental health care in Manchester into a massive new facility in the north of the city. Park House Hospital in Crumpsall will not only imprison patients in a new unit which is cut off from the local community but also ‘treat’ patients from across Manchester.

Full story here

Source: Anticapitalist Resistance, 30/09/2022

Nurses investigated amid abuse at Manchester mental health hospital

Nurses working at the mental health unit in Manchester are to be investigated by the regulator, after footage of vulnerable patients being subjected to humiliation, verbal abuse and bullying at the hospital was aired on the BBC programme Panorama.

Nurses and other staff at Edenfield Centre, which is a large medium security mental health unit in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, were filmed mistreating patients by an undercover BBC reporter working as a support worker at the centre, as part of a Panorama investigation.

“We’ve opened fitness to practise cases for some professionals on our register”

Andrea Sutcliffe

Staff, including mental health nurses, were filmed mocking patients when they were in vulnerable situations, and joking about their self-harm.

In addition, they were seen using unnecessary restraint and slapping or pinching patients. They were also seen keeping patients with autism or learning disabilities in seclusion for long periods of time.

At other points in the documentary – titled Undercover Hospital: Patients at Risk – nurses at the unit were filmed falsifying observation records and sleeping when they were on shift.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, confirmed that the regulator had now opened fitness to practise cases for more than one of the Edenfield Centre nurses, following the airing of the Panorama episode.

She said: “The treatment of patients in vulnerable circumstances that Panorama has revealed is appalling and utterly dreadful to watch.

“We’ve opened fitness to practise cases for some professionals on our register. We’ll urgently consider whether we need to take steps to restrict their practice while we look into these concerns.

“Our thoughts are very much with the patients affected, and their families who should never have had to experience this,” Ms Sutcliffe added.

In addition, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed that they have opened an investigation into “a number of allegations” against staff at the Edenfield Centre.

Head of GMP’s Public Protection Department, chief superintendent Michaela Kerr, said: “It goes without saying that these allegations are concerning.

“Since they were brought to our attention, we have been working with partner agencies to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable individuals.

“We have put in place immediate actions to protect patient safety, which is our utmost priority”

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

“We’ve also obtained the information required to open criminal investigations and enquiries are ongoing to ensure all offences are recorded and those involved identified,” she said.

“In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we are reviewing footage from Panorama with a view to prosecuting anyone who’s captured committing a crime. Anyone who has concerns about care they or a loved one has received should contact us or Crimestoppers.”

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for the Edenfield Centre, has announced it has suspended a number of staff, pending further investigations, and has commissioned an independent clinical review of the services provided at the centre.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are taking the allegations raised by Panorama very seriously since the BBC sent them to us earlier this month. We have put in place immediate actions to protect patient safety, which is our utmost priority.”

They added that the trust was working closely with local and national partners including NHS England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Greater Manchester Police to ensure the safety of their services.

“We will co-operate fully with all investigations,” they said. “We owe it to our patients, their families and carers, the public and our staff that these allegations are fully investigated to ensure we provide the best care, every day, for all the communities we serve.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “These allegations of mistreatment and abuse are deeply concerning.

“Our first priority is to ensure anyone receiving treatment in a mental health facility receives safe, high-quality care, and is looked after with dignity and respect.

“We take these reports very seriously and are investigating the concerns raised, alongside investigations from the Greater Manchester Police and the CQC,” they said.

They added: “The CQC has a range of enforcement powers to address failings and ensure care does not fall below the standards we expect.”

Many nurses have also responded to the Panorama programme on Twitter, expressing sadness, shame and outrage at the abuses revealed by the investigation.

Yesterday’s Panorama programme is only the latest in a series using undercover reporters to reveal care failings involving vulnerable patients with learning disabilities, autism, and mental ill health.

In 2019, a Panorama investigation of Whorlton Hall in County Durham showed patients with autism and learning difficulties being provoked by staff and then physically restrained.

Meanwhile, a CQC report earlier this year warned that restrictive practices and seclusion were still being too widely used against people with learning disabilities, autism, and mental ill health within the NHS.

Professor Alison Leary, chair of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, said that a lack of nursing leadership, and of expert staff more generally, was partly responsible for these failures of care.

She said: “Abuse uncovered by the Panorama programme is shocking, but this is the latest in a long line of failures in nursing care across many years as many inquiries have shown.

“A common thread is lack of nursing leadership and availability of experienced expert staff who can promote therapeutic environments and care,” she said.

Professor Leary added that adequate staffing was much more than “a numbers game”.

She said: “Patients and other vulnerable people not having access to professional nursing care when they need it because of lack of registered and experienced staff is as much of a risk.”

Professor Leary warned that “de-professionalising” nursing risked lowering the bar on standards and safety.

“Professional nursing must be valued as pivotal to patient safety including the raising of concerns by frontline workers,“ she said.

Source: Nursing Times, 29th September 2022

The Edenfield Centre: MP criticises mental health unit bosses over abuse

An MP has condemned the “horrific” treatment of patients at one of the UK’s largest mental health hospitals.

BBC Panorama investigation found a “toxic culture of humiliation, verbal abuse and bullying” at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich near Manchester. 

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford said it showed a “failure of leadership” at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH).

Hospital bosses said they took immediate action to protect patients. 

An undercover BBC reporter filmed staff using restraint inappropriately and patients enduring long seclusions.

Mr Wakeford said: “To put it very simply, it’s absolutely horrific. 

“The allegations that have been coming from patients, who are arguably the most vulnerable in society with learning difficulties, with mental health issues, being treated without respect, without professionalism, without care is deeply distressing and disturbing.”

Undercover footage of Harley being restrained
Image caption, Experts criticised the use of restraint on patients such as Harley, who gave her consent to be identified

He called for a fully independent review into what happened. 

“We owe it not only to the patients but to their families to understand how long it’s been going on for, how many patients have been affected and just how deep this goes,” he said. 

“I fear it’s not just a culture of behaviour, but a failure of leadership as well.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham described the footage as “appalling” and “highly distressing”.

He also called for an independent review “to get the full truth as to how this could have ever happened”.

“These are scenes that you would never want to see anywhere in this country,” he added. 

Following the airing of the BBC Panorama programme, Greater Manchester Police said it had opened a criminal investigation into the behaviour of staff. 

A GMMH spokeswoman said: “We are taking these allegations very seriously and have put in place immediate actions to protect patient safety since BBC Panorama raised these issues with us earlier this month.

“Senior doctors at the trust have undertaken clinical reviews of the patients affected, we have suspended a number of staff pending further investigations and we have also commissioned an independent clinical review of the services provided at the Edenfield Centre.”

Edenfield Centre
Image caption, The secure unit is intended to care for people at risk of harming themselves and others

In a letter to staff seen by the BBC, sent prior to the Panorama broadcast, the trust’s chief executive Neil Thwaite said immediate steps had been taken to ensure patient safety.

“The NHS is facing unprecedented demand for mental health services, but we are absolutely clear that our principal priority is the proper care and treatment of our patients,” he added. 

“We owe it to our patients, their carers, the public and our staff that these allegations are fully investigated to ensure we provide the best care, every day, for all the communities we serve.”

The BBC has also seen a letter sent by Unison to its members ahead of the broadcast.

Lyndsey Marchant, regional officer, said the behaviour shown in the programme was not reflective of the majority of workers. 

“Unison continues to raise with the trust, wider issues that may have contributed to the culture shown on BBC Panorama, including issues around staffing levels, reduced numbers of registered staff, of experienced staff, not just in in-patient wards,” she added. 

Campaign group CHARM protest
Image caption, Campaigners gathered outside Manchester Central Library

Campaign group CHARM held a “solidarity” vigil outside Manchester Central Library earlier for all those affected. 

Dozens of health campaigners, service users and some current and former NHS staff attended the vigil in the city centre.

Speakers at the event reiterated calls for an independent inquiry into the facility, and for accountability from its management.

Full story here

Source: BBC News, 29th September 2022

Shocked and concerned’ – Mind calls for a public inquiry after BBC Panorama exposes alleged verbal and physical abuse of patients at Edenfield Centre

Undercover footage broadcast during a BBC Panorama programme which aired yesterday evening highlighted alleged verbal and physical abuse of vulnerable patients with mental health problems and autism at the Edenfield Centre, run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. The programme raised serious concerns about the use of harmful and dangerous practices including unnecessary restraint and seclusion, near-mistakes with medication, falsification of observation records and physical and verbal abuse.

As a result, mental health charity Mind is calling for a full statutory public inquiry into systemic failings of inpatient mental health services across England.

Responding to the documentary, Vicki Nash, Associate Director of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind, said:

“The footage of patients at the Edenfield Centre obtained undercover by BBC Panorama is shocking and extremely concerning. People who have been admitted to medium secure units are likely to be experiencing moderate to severe mental health problems including suicidal thoughts, self-harming and psychosis. When we are at our most unwell and vulnerable, we need caring and compassionate treatment in a safe and therapeutic environment to recover and we and our loved ones should be able to expect – as a bare minimum – basic humanity and respect. The fact that footage obtained as part of this documentary has prompted a criminal police investigation indicates just how short of expectations this mental health service may have fallen.

“We are especially concerned about the apparently excessive and punitive use of restraint and seclusion for people with mental health problems and autism. We know these dangerous measures are traumatising, likely to make people’s mental health even worse, and can even be fatal – either directly or indirectly.

“Everyone involved in the running of the Edenfield Centre must now fully cooperate with authorities including the police as part of their investigation to make sure safe and therapeutic care is reinstated immediately. The investigation must also draw heavily on the experiences of patients and those close to them.

“It’s been 10 years since the scandalous treatment taking place at Winterbourne View was exposed. But Winterbourne and Edenfield are not isolated cases as campaigners and families have repeatedly made clear; and the CQC’s restraint, segregation and seclusion review (2020) confirmed. It’s clear we still have a long way to go when it comes to delivering the minimum quality of care we expect – a safe and therapeutic environment conducive to recovery. We now must see a full examination of the systemic failings of inpatient mental health services in England. Mind is also urging the UK government to deliver on its promise of a reformed mental health bill, which aims to give people greater choice and control in the treatment they receive when detained under section.”

Full story here

Source: National Mind, Thursday, 29th September

What is behind a new mental health abuse scandal?

The lack of trained staff and society’s view of people with mental distress are a toxic mix

An abuse scandal on an appalling scale is said to have erupted at a mental health facility in Manchester.

The BBC’s Panorama programme says it has evidence of severe malpractice after deploying a reporter as an undercover member of staff at the Edenfield medium-security institution.  It plans to broadcast a programme about Edenfield this week.

Well-placed sources told the Manchester Evening News last week that allegations include “serious abuse” of adult patients. Police are now investigating and Greater Manchester Mental Health trust has suspended up to 30 staff.

A similar expose in 2011 detailed the shocking way people with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour suffered physical and psychological abuse at the hands of staff at the Winterbourne View private hospital, in South Gloucestershire. It led to a national scandal and inquiry that was supposed to ensure that nothing similar could happen again.

Edenfield treats around 200 patients, most of which have been sectioned by a court and are classed as a potential danger to themselves and others. The BBC’s footage from there is said to be as harrowing and shocking as that taken at Winterbourne. 

It will almost certainly lead to outrage that health professionals could treat some of the most vulnerable people in society in such a terrible way. But mental health workers elsewhere in Britain have told Socialist Worker that what happened at Winterbourne, and now seemingly Edenfield is not simply the result of cruel and sadistic people in the workforce.

“People going to work in secure settings need to be extremely qualified and experienced,” one mental health practitioner told Socialist Worker on condition of anonymity. 

“Patient behaviour can at times be very challenging, and even violent. But too often I hear that secure wards and units are staffed by people with little experience, and sometimes not a single registered nurse on shift.

“That is a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have enough experienced and skilled staff on, there is nobody to ensure a proper culture of care or to help with patients that are particularly distressed. Even very good staff without qualifications and practice simply don’t have the weight to do this.”

The practitioner also says understaffed and underskilled wards—which are increasingly common—lead to health workers becoming overwhelmed and responding badly to challenges.

“People without the right skills and backup can easily become frustrated at their inability to deal with patients that challenge them. They can even stop noticing the way they react. This phenomenon is so well-known in healthcare that it has a name. It is called ‘institutionalisation’ and ‘burnout’.

“Mostly, when people start working in mental health, they do so because they care, and want to help people. But when they are dropped into situations they can’t deal with, and without any resources or experience to fall back on, that enthusiasm can fade and be replaced by its opposite.”

People who start angry about the conditions they work in, soon adapt to them and often rely on bad coping mechanisms to get them through their shift, says the practitioner.

“You can’t be furious about your work every day,” they continue. “So, when faced with multiple demands that are impossible to meet, people working in these settings often dehumanise their patients—either consciously, or unconsciously.

“They find a way of switching off from them emotionally, of detaching. Not looking your patients in the eye is a way of avoiding their distress, and their distress becoming your distress.

“Many find this is the only way they can survive the job. But the problem is that the same process of dehumanisation can lie behind terrible care and even patient abuse. That’s why we have to put the issue of safe staffing at the centre of patient care.”

And these factors interact with a general societal prejudice against people with mental distress. It is easier therefore to think they should be treated in a worse way than other patients.

Worsening conditions at work, poor pay and lack of fully qualified staff have already driven some of the most experienced health workers out of the job. 

The NHS in England is currently short of 6,000 mental health nurses, and years of below-inflation pay deals mean that number will only grow. 

The regulator, the Care Quality Commissioner, downgraded some of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust services to inadequate in April this year.

At the time, Lyndsey Marchant, Unison union’s regional organiser, told the Manchester World news website, “We have been raising concerns about the serious lack of staff in many of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust in-patient and community teams for some time.

“We have said this puts our members at risk of both physical harm and prolonged mental distress. It also means staff cannot provide a safe and timely service for our service users, so services are unsafe for them too.  We feel as though the trust’s unwillingness to address our concerns has contributed to this announcement from the CQC.”

The new care scandal at Edenfield is unlikely to be the last. To get the standard of care and compassion that we expect vulnerable people to be treated with, there has to be a change in the culture and practices in many mental health institutions.

But that can only happen when we have fully staffed and resourced wards that enable health workers to care in the same way they wanted to when they started in the job.

Full story here

Source: Socialist Worker, 25th September 2022