Chair of Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust to step down

The move comes after ‘inexcusable behaviour and examples of unacceptable care’ were ‘exposed’ at a mental health unit, he said

Rupert Nichols, chair of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, wrote a letter to the governors, board members and colleagues at the trust, shared this afternoon (November 18). Although Mr Nichols’ term of office ends next July, he announced he would be ‘retiring’ early from the position at the end of December 2022.

The Edenfield Centre is in the grounds of the former Prestwich Hospital and was the subject of a BBC Panorama programme that claims patients were abused. Since the episode aired, 30 staff are facing disciplinary action and a dozen have already been sacked, the Manchester Evening News understands. 

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. Councillors are seeking a public inquiry, and the trust is also bracing itself for a Care Quality Commission report due to be published imminently which is expected to be damning.

The letter from Mr Nichols reads that ‘the trust would benefit from a new chair’ during this ‘recovery period’: ” Our Trust is facing significant challenges following the inexcusable behaviour and examples of unacceptable care that have been exposed at the Edenfield Centre. Both I and the Board have apologised to those affected directly and indirectly. 

“It is clear that it will take some time for the Trust to navigate the challenges of successfully implementing our Improvement Plan and rebuilding faith and confidence in our services. My term of office as Chair ends next July, but I believe that the Trust would benefit from a new Chair, bringing new ideas and energy to lead the Board through this recovery period and beyond.”

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.

The outgoing chair says he is ‘absolutely certain’ the trust will ‘come through this difficult period’ to ‘once again be recognised as a provider of high quality, compassionate care’. Mr Nichols’ letter continued: “I have therefore decided to retire from the board at the end of December 2022, to allow the Trust to make a new appointment at the earliest opportunity.

” It has been an immense privilege to chair your Board and the Council of Governors. I am absolutely certain that Greater Manchester Mental Health trust will come through this difficult period, learning from the experience and making the appropriate changes to, once again, be recognised as a provider of high quality, compassionate care.” 

Thirty staff are subject of disciplinary action by the trust that runs the Edenfield site

In a letter to stakeholders, including Bury council, Mr Nichols previously said the Edenfield Centre itself remains closed to new patient admissions, with a total of three wards closed in recent weeks. An enhanced management team remains in place, with daily oversight of patient care, staffing levels and a focus on safer staffing, additional training has also been provided across the Edenfield Centre.

Full story here

Source: Manchester Evening News, 18th November 2022

Published by CHARM Greater Manchester

CHARM, the Community for Holistic, Accessible, Rights Based Mental Health was launched by The Organic Recovery Learning Community in September 2020.

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