Thirty staff are the subject of disciplinary action after claims in a BBC Panorama programme that patients were abused at an NHS mental health unit. A dozen have been sacked, the MEN undertands, and another 18 are to face hearings.
Chair of GMMH , Rupert Nichols, formally apologised on behalf of the entire Board to those directly and indirectly affected by recent events – “especially those service users, their families and carers treated so poorly at the Edenfield Centre.”
The action involves staff at the Edenfield Centre in the grounds of the former Prestwich Hospital amid demands for a public inquiry. There are fears, a Manchester City council committee hearing was told, alleged abuse of patients at the Edenfield Centre is happening at other Greater Manchester mental health treatment units.
Meanwhile an independent clincial review into the Edenfield Centre, has made 31 recommedations. It was comissioned by Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust after it became aware of the Panorama findings and was led by Dr David Fearnley, Chief Medical Officer, of the Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust.
Some staff were filmed by an undercover Panorama reporter embedded in the unit from March to June of this year. The footage in the one-hour programme captured apparent humiliation, verbal abuse, mocking and assault of patients – plus alleged falsification of medical paperwork. A patient called Joanna was filmed apparently being pinched twice by a member of staff, and, against the rules three male patients are found in one room watching porn, it is claimed. A member of staff was apparently filmed having a nap on a wall during her shift.
In a briefing note issued this week by Neil Thwaite, chief executive of Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, which runs the unit, stakeholders and staff are told: “The past several weeks have justifiably been marked both by intense activity within, and intense scrutiny of, the Trust. There is no doubt that Panorama showed, in stark detail, absolutely appalling and shocking behaviour by some of our staff.
“The Trust Board has recognised that this inexcusable behaviour has damaged the reputation of the organisation and – by association – of our wider staff, the vast majority of whom work tirelessly to deliver high quality and compassionate care.”
The note says: “Following formal disciplinary procedures, the Trust dismissed a number of staff whilst several other staff remain suspended from duties pending further investigation. Ongoing engagement has also been underway with regional and local trade unions, to ensure staff support mechanisms are in place for those directly and indirectly affected.”
The ongoing disciplinary action goes up to management level. Greater Manchester Police are continuing with their own investigation into the alleged abuse.
Mr Thwaite says that at Board meeting this week – the first since the BBC broadcast in September – Chair, Rupert Nichols, formally apologised on behalf of the entire Board to those directly and indirectly affected by recent events – “especially those service users, their families and carers treated so poorly at the Edenfield Centre.”
He adds: “I want to reiterate our absolute commitment to putting right the wrongs that have emerged, and to doing so in a spirit of honesty, transparency and collaboration, as we embark on our Improvement Plan.
The Trust has commissioned the Good Governance Institute to conduct a review of systems and processes within the Edenfield Centre and across the Trust, under the heading ‘Why did we not know?’ – with their final report expected in December.
An “enhanced management team” was set up at in the unit in early September and action taken to ensure safer staffing on all wards. Training needs for staff have been reviewed, with additional training capacity provided for the Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression.
The unit is currently closed to new admissions. It normally has 600 staff looking after 200 adult patients on 11 male and female adult wards. A number of wards have been closed since the programme was aired.
The University of Salford has taken action in the wake of the allegations by withdrawing all of its students on placement – or due to attend a placement – at the Edenfield Centre.
The clinical review by Dr Fearnley, makes 31 recommendations covering safer staffing; safeguarding; reducing restructive practices; a review of its seclusion policy, and leadership.
The report said: “Staff within the women’s service told us that at times the gender mix of staff on the women’s ward did not meet the needs of the patients. It was noted on review of thehealth roster that there were occasions when more than half of staff rostered to workon the women’s wards were male. This resulted in challenges in providing adequate privacy and dignity when patients on therapeutic observations were attending to personal care.”
It adds: “The Trust should have clear expectations relating to safe staffing levels; allwards should have a registered nurse on each shift. This expectation should bereflected in the Trust’s safe staffing procedure. The Trust should ensure that staff know when and how to escalate unsafestaffing levels.”
On leadership the report says: “The Trust should review the leadership in the Edenfield Centre to enhance the clinical voice and create a culture of clinically led and managerially supported services..The Trust should have clear expectations regarding the visibility of leaders within clinical areas.”
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Source: Manchester Evening News, 3rd November 2022