Mental health patients treated like 'animals in a zoo' at Ablett Unit in North Wales, report finds

Patients were kept "like animals in a zoo" at a mental health unit in Wales, families have said.

An investigation into the Ablett psychiatric unit in Rhyl, North Wales has found a series of alarming allegations to be true.

These included:

  • Patients being sworn at by staff

  • Patients left unsupervised for hours at a time

  • Patients nursed on the floor in corridors and rooms

  • Patients being left in urine-soaked beds

  • One patient left lying in their own excrement

  • Furniture used to restrain patients

The unit was closed down in 2013 after "serious concerns" were raised by medical staff and families.

North Wales Police launched an investigation and several members of staff were also suspended.

The Health Board also ordered an external independent review, which has now been published.

Executive Medical Director Dr Matthew Makin said the failures were down to a lack of robust checks in place and poor communication with the families.

The family of one patient described what they saw as "like when you go in a zoo and see animals that have been captured there for a long time and that's all they've got to do is walk around and around."

Ablett Unit report: Five key recommendations

The report also details one occasion when a patient was complaining of discomfort in their arm.

The report says the response from staff was: 'Oh [the patient] did complain of a painful arm, but we didn't take much notice really.'

After being taken to an Accident & Emergency department, the patient was diagnosed with a broken wrist, the investigation found.

The chief executive of the Betsi Cadwaladr University health board has apologised.

ITV News reporter Ben Chapman has the story:

Follow the story in more detail at ITV Wales