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  1. ITV Report

Mental health patient 'unable to leave locked ward' a year after her discharge

The patient made a complaint to the Ombudsman about the care she received. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

A vulnerable mental health patient was unable to leave the locked rehabilitation unit she was in for nearly a year after she was discharged an investigation has found.

The patient, known only as Ms A, made a complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales about the care she received from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have since apologised to Ms A for the failings. Credit: PA

Ms A had been detained in Wales under the Mental Health Act but later moved to a secure hospital in England to be closer to her family. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board funded the patient's placement in a rehabilitation unit in England. She was then discharged from detention in March 2016.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said Ms A was 'significantly let down by health services'.

While aftercare and supported living accomodation were arranged, Ms A agreed to remain in the rehabilitation unit as a voluntary patient. But almost a year later she was still on the locked ward with other patients detained under the Mental Health Act.

Ms A said during her time on the ward she was physically attacked by other patients. In his report, Wales' Public Services Ombudsman Nick Bennett, said the patient "was targeted by other patients, during her stay".

I find it particularly disheartening that Ms A was significantly let down by health services at a pivotal time in her mental health recovery. She remained on a locked rehabilitation ward with detained patients when she should have been progressing with her recovery and establishing her independence. This unacceptable situation continued for almost a year. She was targeted by other patients, during her stay as an informal patient, and sadly the Health Board failed to provide her with a safe environment during this period. I believe Ms A's human rights were compromised by the failings identified. I am concerned by the "Catch-22" situation and the systemic issues identified in my report. I have shared a copy with the Welsh Government, so it can review whether action needs to be taken at an all-Wales level to improve arrangements for cross-border mental health treatment.

– Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

In his report, the Ombudsman found Ms A had been stuck in a "Catch 22" situation. The Community Mental Health Team in England would not accept a referral from the Health Board until Ms A was discharged from the Hospital, living at a local residential address, and registered with a local GP,

But the providers of supported living accommodation would not accept a referral to assess Ms A they had confirmation from the Community Mental Health Team - who would not accept the referral.

Following the report Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has agreed to a number of recommendations, including providing a written apology to Ms A for the failings identified.