Greater Manchester Mental Health trust is now under the highest level of NHS England scrutiny, the M.E.N. can confirm, following allegations that patients were abused. Greater Manchester’s mental health trust has been placed into the ‘equivalent of special measures’, the Manchester Evening News can reveal. The crisis measures enforced by the NHS come after allegations that patients were abused at a mental health unit run by the beleaguered trust.
The Edenfield Centre is a mental health care facility 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.
The chair of the trust, Rupert Nichols, resigned last week after ‘inexcusable behaviour and examples of unacceptable care’ were ‘exposed’ at a mental health unit, he said. Now, NHS England is placing the Recovery Support Programme, the ‘equivalent to the former special measures’, multiple senior NHS sources say.
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) is now under the highest level of NHS England intervention, the M.E.N. can confirm. Every trust is part of the NHS’ Oversight Framework, those placed into its highest level are identified as experiencing the most significant and complex challenges in achieving financial sustainability and/or high-quality care receive intensive mandatory support.
They previously might have been placed in ‘special measures’, say high level sources. In a letter to trust staff, seen by the M.E.N., the chief executive and chair said: “This means the Trust has been given access to intensive support from national and regional partners, who will work collaboratively with us to analyse and pinpoint the root causes of the challenges we face.
“A mandatory intensive package of support will be agreed and delivered, and progress will be monitored against an improvement plan. Once progress and improvements are sustainable, we will exit this programme.
“This support package will be led by an Improvement Director and will include the deployment of a multidisciplinary team drawn from within the NHS nationally, as well as externally where required. The Recovery Support Programme will also give us access to additional expertise and resource to ensure that sustainable improvements are made as quickly as possible.”
In a letter to the chief executive and deputy, also seen by the M.E.N., NHS England boss Sir David Sloman said: “NHS England will commission an independent review into the failings identified within the Trust’s services and the failure within the organisation to escalate concerns and mitigate against patient harm. This follows concerns raised by patients, their families, and staff, some of which have been presented through the media.
“The intention is that the review’s work will bring some clarity and reassurance to patients, their families, and staff, as well as the broader public, in respect of the ongoing safety of services that the Trust delivers.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust Board is committed to providing the best quality care to our service users.
“The Recovery Support Programme provides an opportunity for us to work together with all our partners across Greater Manchester to build better and more sustainable services for our service users.
“In addition, we welcome NHS England’s decision to commission an independent review into our services. We hope this review will bring some clarity and reassurance to those we care for, and the public, regarding the ongoing safety of the services we deliver. We will engage openly and thoroughly with this work.”
The Recovery Support Programme was introduced across the NHS in July 2021. Two trusts in the North West are already under its oversight, including University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Liverpool University Hospitals 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.
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.
Rupert Nichols, chair of GMMH until the end of December, wrote a letter to the governors, board members and colleagues at the trust, shared on Friday 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 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.”
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.
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Source: Manchester Evening News, 23rd November 2022