abuse at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s mental health ward
Tawel Fan ward was closed last year and police are now investigating the patient care provided
First Published on Oct 20, 2014 By Rhodri Barker
Darren Millar AM is calling for a review into alleged abuse at a Ysbyty Glan Clwyd mental health ward to be made public
A review into alleged “institutional abuse” and “shocking” neglect at a mental health ward should be made public, says an AM.
Following allegations of “appalling” mistreatment at the Tawel Fan ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan, Darren Millar AM said the findings of an independent review into patient care should be published by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
After learning of the alleged abuse on the ward, David Jones MP said a wide-ranging “Keogh-type” inquiry should be carried out into the running of the NHS in Wales.
The Tawel Fan ward was closed in December 2013 after “serious concerns” were raised by staff and families.
As North Wales Police launched an investigation into patient care on the ward this month, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said it was “truly sorry” to have let down patients and their families.
In January, the health board had commissioned an independent external reviewer to look at patient care on the ward.
In a report apparently based on that review — and a mobile phone video secretly filmed on the ward — a national Sunday newspaper said patients on the ward were subjected to “shocking” mistreatment and “institutional abuse”. Staff were said to have shown a “lack of compassionate care”, behaved in an “unprofessional” manner and used coarse language.
Clwyd West AM and Shadow Health Minister Mr Millar said he was “shocked and appalled” to read the revelations, and called on the health board to bring the findings of its review “into the light”.
He said: “These are deeply shocking revelations about the scale of vile abuse and neglect of elderly and vulnerable patients in the Labour-run Welsh NHS.
“Every NHS patient should be treated with the highest standards of respect and care. It is now incumbent upon the health board to put the facts in the public domain.
“It would appear that it took an undercover camera to get any action taken. It shouldn’t take a secret recording to get concerns taken seriously. “Concerns were being raised by family members over a long period before there was any action taken.
“To drive up standards, poor practice must be exposed, so the full report of the independent investigator must be published.
“If these very serious allegations are accurate, let’s see the detail. They need to bring everything into the light.
“If people are going to be brought to justice, I would not want anything to jeopardise that. But there are ways to make the information public which would not affect the police investigation.
“Labour’s legacy of record-breaking NHS budget cuts has led to health boards cutting corners and put unbearable pressure on frontline staff, but that is no excuse for poor care.
“Welsh Labour Ministers must now clarify what they knew, when they knew it and what action they took to address the concerns of patients and their families.
“I’m very concerned indeed, and my heart goes out to the family members of patients.”
Mr Millar said he has tabled an urgent question in the Welsh Assembly about the allegations, and written to the chairman of the health board to ask about the concerns raised by patients’ loved ones.
Mr Jones said: “By any standards, the report makes shocking reading. It is clear that professional standards at Tawel Fan were disgracefully low. They impacted appallingly badly on highly vulnerable patients, whose families were entitled to look to the NHS for proper standards of care.
“The Tawel Fan case is, sadly, not the only instance of unsatisfactory performance in the Welsh NHS that gives cause for concern. In order to restore confidence, the Welsh Government should now commission a Keogh-type inquiry into the running of the NHS in Wales.”
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, England’s NHS medical director, led a review into hospital death rates following the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal.
Mr Jones said: “For too long, the public have been fobbed off by apologies from successive Welsh health ministers. That is no longer good enough. We need to shine an independent light on the running of the Welsh health service, and that needs to happen now.”
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “We are aware Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has commissioned an independent review into care on a mental health ward, which was closed last year. North Wales Police has also launched an investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further while a police investigation is ongoing.”