Concerns over lack of improvement in mental health services in North Wales

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Post : Wed 27 April 2022

Update: wed 27 april

Concerns have been raised about the lack of improvement in mental health services in North Wales.

It comes after it was confirmed last week that a member of nursing staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital has been arrested over ‘fears of abuse of position and possible mistreatment of patients’.

The families of elderly patients at the scandal-hit Tawel Fan dementia ward have since expressed their “devastation” at news of the inquest.

The service at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd was closed in 2013 following concerns about the standard of care, leading the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to commit to significant improvements.

A program was also aired this week in which staff from the mental health unit at Hergest Unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor told S4C how scared they were to work there.

A Conservative member of Senedd said the latest issues had cast doubt on improving mental health services in the area and families felt they had been “grossly let down”.

Speaking in a debate in the Welsh Parliament yesterday (Tuesday April 26), Clwyd West MS Darren Millar said: ‘There were staff from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Hergest Unit, who said they were afraid to come to work and they were afraid to speak up because of the potential impact on services.

“They felt that there was a lack of support from management, that there were staffing issues in these departments and that the work environment was toxic.

“On top of that there were patients alleging that they had been denied the hospital treatment they needed.

“This comes on top of a report published last week of the suspension of a member of staff at Wrexham Maelor, allegedly in relation to WhatsApp messages that circulated from a dementia patient who had soiled a bed.”

He added: “This clearly does not mean that the problems with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Mental Health Services have been resolved.

“Many people have contacted me who had concerns and loved ones who have been affected by the Tawel Fan scandal to say they feel grossly disappointed with the Welsh Government and Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board that this kind of things continue.”

In response to concerns about the Hergest unit, the health board issued a statement in which it said “good progress” had been made there in recent years.

However, he acknowledged there were still issues and said he was “working so hard to make further improvements”.

Allegations relating to the Maelor staff member are still under investigation.

During yesterday’s Senedd session, Mr Millar called on the Welsh Government to explain how it was going to change mental health services in the region.

North Wales Minister Lesley Griffiths said in response that she wanted to see improvements made as soon as possible.

She said: ‘The incident you referred to at Maelor Hospital last week is under police investigation.

‘The health board is fully engaged in this investigation so it really isn’t appropriate to comment further at this time.

“On the broader issue you raise around mental health, obviously the board of health is in targeted intervention for its mental health services.

“I know that the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Deputy Minister of Mental Health meet regularly with the board of health, as do their officials.

“I know she’s looking at the calendar and if she has to bring this forward, to see the improvements that we all want to see.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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