Bill McCarthy, a former NHS director has been revealed as the new chair of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH). The appointment follows after ‘inexcusable behaviour and examples of unacceptable care’ were ‘exposed’ at a mental health unit, said the outgoing chair.
Rupert Nichols wrote a letter to the governors, board members and colleagues at the trust in November, announcing he would be ‘retiring’ early from the position at the end of December 2022. He will be replaced by Bill McCarthy, who will take on the interim chair role from from 1 January 2023, for up to twelve months.
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.
The Care Quality Commission carried out a recent inspection of the trust, some concerns being prompted by whistleblowers, and served with warning notices to improve after inspectors found it to be unsafe. The trust has also been placed in ‘the equivalent of special measures’, and is now under the highest level of NHS England intervention.
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 new chair ‘will enable seamless leadership in line with the trust’s progress into the next phase of our improvement process, through the NHS England Recovery Support Programme, for the benefit of all our service users, carers and staff’, said the trust.
Bill McCarthy will be stepping down from his current role at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, where he has been senior independent director since April 2022. Prior to that, Mr McCarthy was NHS Regional Director in the North West, before he retired in 2021.
His previous roles include Director of Policy for NHS England and Chief Executive at NHS Yorkshire. A substantive chair of the trust will be recruited through the council of governors ‘at the appropriate time next year’, said the trust.
Neil Thwaite, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we welcome Bill’s appointment as interim Chair. His vast experience of the NHS and collaboration with partners will be hugely beneficial to our efforts to improve services. I look forward to working closely with him in the coming months.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Rupert Nichols, who will shortly leave us after more than six years as our Chair. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
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, 12th December 2022