Three young people have died in a nine month period at Prestwich Hospital.
Rowan Thompson, 18, died at the mental health hospital in Bury, in October, followed by Charlie Millers, 17, in December, and Ania Sohail, 21, in June.
The series of deaths has led campaigners to call on the Care Quality Commission to ‘urgently inspect the service’.
In response, the Care Quality Commission told the Manchester Evening News they were reviewing ‘the information available to us and considering what actions’ to take.
In a 2018 CQC report Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust, of which Prestwich Hospital is part, was rated ‘good’ overall.
But Paul Elliot, Deputy Chief Inspector for hospitals and lead for mental health said there were ‘areas for improvement’, adding: “We have made it clear that the trust needs to focus further on safety.
“In acute wards for working age adults and psychiatric intensive care units, staff were not following the trust’s policy in relation to rapid tranquilisation and in child and adolescent mental health wards, checks to ensure that equipment was safe to use had not always been carried out.”
The Trust has 13 locations with 875 beds across 59 wards.
A CQC report published in January 2020 again rated the Trust ‘good’ overall, but the category of ‘Are Services Safe?’was said to require improvement.
Jodie Anderson, caseworker at the charity INQUEST, which is supporting the families of Charlie and Rowan, said they were ‘deeply concerned’.
“Families expect that their children and loved ones are in the safest place possible when they are a mental health inpatient. Yet too often, this is not the case,” she said.
“We await the inquests into these premature deaths, which must ensure the utmost scrutiny. However, we cannot wait for action on this hospital. In light of these three very recent deaths of young people in concerning circumstances, we call on the regulators the Care Quality Commission, to urgently inspect this service and ensure other young people in mental health crisis are kept safe.”
In response, Brian Cranna, the Care Quality Commission’s head of hospital inspection (and lead for mental health), said: “We can confirm, that we are aware of the deaths of three patients at Prestwich Hospital in Manchester, which is run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and our thoughts are with their loved ones.
“We are reviewing the information available to us and considering what actions we may wish to take.
“Our priority will always be to ensure consistently safe, effective and responsive care for people using health and social care services.”
Full inquests will be held into the deaths of Ania, Rowan, and Charlie at Rochdale Coroner’s Court. No dates for the hearings have been set yet.
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Note: NHS trusts investigate deaths in their own mental health facilities, with no independent body looking into the death.
The charity Inquest provides support to bereaved families of those who have died in state custody. It said in 2015 the lack of an independent investigation into deaths in mental health detention is a ‘glaring disparity’.
A later report in 2016, submitted to the Care Quality Commission in the wake of Southern Health’s disastrous handling of patients’ deaths, warned the ‘approach to investigations and investigation reports are inconsistent across trusts and mainly very poor in quality’.
Source: Manchester Evening News, 26th July 2021