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Patient safety 'at risk' on mental health wards

Patient safety on two mental health wards is being put 'at risk' according to a report.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales carried out an unannounced inspection of the Cynnydd and Dinas wards of the Ablett Unit in north Wales.

The unit is based at Glan Clwyd Hospital and this isn't the first time it has hit the headlines.

The unannounced inspection found a series of areas that led investigators to conclude that the wards 'are not fit for purpose.'

The report said: "It is also concerning to note that some of the issues that we found during this inspection were also apparent during our last visit in June 2014."

Among the concerns raised were:

  • the layout of the corridors and associated blind spots on Dinas ward made effective patient observation very difficult.
  • there were no vision panels on doors of patient rooms on Dinas ward meaning that if a patient was on regular observations they would be disturbed through the night.
  • The rostering of only male staff members on Cynnydd Ward when some patients were female. The report says 'this was inappropriate and should not happen'.
  • The garden areas [of Dinas ward] were unkempt, dark and there was litter on the floor. This was also an issue that was identified during our June 2014 inspection, and again the health board’s action plan stated this issue would be resolved by September2014

While investigators said that "management at ward level were keen to develop the service with positive outcomes for patients firmly in mind" improvement measures have now been made.

The report says the service should now "ensure that findings are not systemic across other areas within the wider organisation."

We are pleased the inspection team noted the enthusiastic and caring approach of our staff and the good standards of care provided – in particular the rapport between the staff and patients.

It is also encouraging that the report recognises how keen our ward managers are to develop the quality of services with positive outcomes for patients firmly in mind.

“We are fully aware of the long standing structural issues relating to the ward layout which have been highlighted in previous reviews. We have developed detailed costed plans for a significant redevelopment programme for the Ablett Unit, which were shared with the HIW inspection team. We have also had discussions with Welsh Government regarding progressing these plans.

Over the past few years we have spent over £750,000 on making improvements to the unit with a further £400,000 planned to be spent. This further investment will enable us to make immediate improvements to the unit’s ward environments.

These include alarms, observation panels and upgrades of bathrooms and general ward environments which have already started and will be completed by the end of March 2018.

– Andy Roach, BCUHB’s Director of Mental Health & Learning Disabilities