Police open investigation into abuse at mental health hospital revealed by BBC

Undercover Panorama probe finds staff assaulting, inappropriately restraining and verbally abusing patients at Edenfield Centre run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Dictionary, definition of the word abuse.
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The police have opened an investigation into abuse of patients at a mental health hospital uncovered by the BBC.

Panorama filmed staff assaulting, inappropriately restraining and secluding and verbally abusing and humiliating patients at the Edenfield Centre run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Undercover reporter Alan Haslam, who spent three months at the centre, also found staff falsely recording that they had carried out required observations of patients.

Greater Manchester Police said it was reviewing the footage with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether anyone should be prosecuted, while nurses’ regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said it had opened fitness to practise investigations into some staff.

The Care Quality Commission said it had suspended its ‘good’ rating of the trust’s forensic inpatient and secure wards in response to the “shocking” footage featured on Panorama, and would soon be releasing its report of an inspection of the centre in June and July.

Meanwhile, the trust said it had suspended a number of staff pending investigation and commissioned an independent clinical review of the service, which experts interviewed for Panorama said had a “toxic culture”.

What did Panorama find?

Among the abuses or issues uncovered by the BBC were:

  • A woman, Harley, being placed by force in seclusion by eight members of staff, including managers, and then being restrained on the floor, despite posing no apparent threat to fellow patients or staff. Under the Mental Health Act 1983 code of practice, seclusion should only be used “where it is of immediate necessity for the purpose of the containment of severe behavioural disturbance which is likely to cause harm to others”.
  • Another patient being held in seclusion for over a year and not allowed a photograph of her grandfather, who had died during her time in the hospital.
  • Ten patients, overall, being placed in seclusion, often for weeks on end, and being held in rooms he described as being in a “terrible state”, that smelt and had no fresh air.
  • A male support worker pinching a female patient, known as Joanna, twice, the second time bending her arm behind her.
  • Staff repeatedly verbally abusing or humiliating patients, including in relation to their weight or bodily functions, or by comparing them to animals, or mocking them behind their back, including in relation to their distress.
  • A patient, known as Alice, almost being given a dangerous second dose of an antipsychotic drug within two hours of her previous does because of a nurse’s error.
  • A female support worker sitting on a male patient – who was on a ward for serious offenders – and tickling him, and another female support worker behaving in a sexualised way towards a male patient.
  • A patient, known as Claire, being restrained and forcibly injected with her medication when she was not actively resisting.
  • Olivia, a patient who agreed to be featured on the programme, saying that her treatment at the hospital had made her serious mental health condition worse.
  • Required observations of patients frequently not taking place, with staff then falsifying records to say that they had.

‘Nobody deserves to be treated in this way’

In response to the programme, the CQC’s interim director of mental health, Jemima Burnage, said: “The footage shown by Panorama is shocking. Nobody deserves to be treated this way. We are in close contact with the trust and other agencies including the police and relevant local authorities to ensure the safety of patients being treated at the Edenfield Centre. We are currently reviewing the information that has been provided by the BBC and will determine if any further action is required.”

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said it was “taking the allegations raised by Panorama very seriously” since being notified by the BBC earlier this month, and had “put in place immediate actions to protect patient safety”.

“Since then, senior doctors at the trust have undertaken clinical reviews of the patients affected, we have suspended a number of staff pending further investigations and we have also commissioned an independent clinical review of the services provided at the Edenfield Centre.”

The spokesperson said the trust was working with the CQC, police and NHS England and would “co-operate fully with all investigations”.

Police investigations

They added: “We owe it to our patients, their families and carers, the public and our staff that these allegations are fully investigated to ensure we provide the best care, every day, for all the communities we serve.”

The head of Greater Manchester Police’s public protection department, chief superintendent Michaela Kerr, said it had also been working with partner agencies to safeguard patients involved, in relation to the “concerning” allegations.

She added: “We’ve also obtained the information required to open criminal investigations and enquiries are ongoing to ensure all offences are recorded and those involved identified.

“In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we are reviewing footage from Panorama with a view to prosecuting anyone who’s captured committing a crime.”

Nurses may face restrictions on practice

Nurses’ regulator the NMC said Panorama’s footage was “appalling and utterly dreadful to watch”.

“We’ve opened fitness to practise cases for some professionals on our register,” said chief executive Andrea Sutliffe. “We’ll urgently consider whether we need to take steps to restrict their practice while we look into these concerns. Our thoughts are very much with the patients affected, and their families who should never have had to experience this.”

Bury Safeguarding Partnership, which is responsible for the area in which Edenfield is situation, said it was also concerned by Panorama’s “very serious allegations” and was  “conducting our own thorough investigations and will be taking appropriate action to address concerns”.

Panorama was tipped off about Edenfield Centre by a member of staff, and whistleblowing charity Protect said its findings – alongside others, such as the maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust – highlighted failings in the health service’s “speak up” policy to empower staff to raise concerns.

“It should not take a BBC undercover reporter to identify these risks – if speaking up was working properly concerns would be addressed immediately by the trust,” said Protect’s head of policy, Andrew Pepper-Parsons. “This is becoming a dangerous pattern in the NHS and there needs to be an urgent independent review of speaking up in the NHS.  NHS staff should be enabled to come forward freely and talk about their experiences in detail.”

Services’ claims of ‘individualised care’

Panorama’s findings are in stark contrast to the trust’s description of the medium-secure hospital, which has 11 wards.

It says: “Our service provides individualised care and treatment for people with enduring mental health needs. A wide range of treatment is available including psychological and other therapeutic interventions and our clinical teams work collaboratively with the service user towards their recovery and discharge.”

The trust also says that clinical teams include a consultant psychiatrist, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers.

The Restraint Reduction Network (RRN), which campaigns and produces guidance on reducing restrictive interventions, said Panorama’s findings were evidence of a “toxic culture” at the service.

Its chair, professor Joy Duxbury, said: “I am shocked and hugely saddened to see yet another example where the rights of those most vulnerable are not only ignored but trampled upon and people’s complex needs are not central to their care.  Toxic cultures such as these underpinned by dehumanising behaviours have no place in our modern-day health and social care systems.”

Restraint training requirements

The RRN said trusts were now required to ensure their training on restrictive interventions complied with the network’s standards, under the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018.

It said these emphasised the importance of protecting human rights, promoting therapeutic approaches to supporting people in distress, reducing reliance on restrictive practices by promoting prevention and de-escalation, increasing understanding of the root causes of behaviour and ensuring restraint was as safe and dignified as possible, when it was required.

The charity said that it encouraged Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust to ensure its training was RRN compliant and “that the centre adheres to approaches that promote positive cultures, person centredness and a reduction in the use of restrictive practices”.

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14 Responses to Police open investigation into abuse at mental health hospital revealed by BBC

  1. J roby September 29, 2022 at 10:52 am #

    Management are as bad had a female patient who Management told staff ti paint her nails treat her differently also mobile phone stolen by team leader and Management husband team leader punished but not Management husband records of obs falsified somebody got sacked oct 8th 2013/14
    They knew a certain member slept and came drunk at nights but because she’d slept with most of the male staff they let her get away with it the whole place is a joke and about time it was exposed I myself got falsely accused my patient but the same said management believed patient rather than all witnesses evidence etc then after 4 months wanted me to let a mental health patient explain why they thought what she had claimed happened didn’t NO CHANCE the trauma I suffered without management support was horrendous I wanted to kill myself despite being not guilty but when your up against big chiefs no chance thank god for family n friends still suffer today

  2. alf September 29, 2022 at 5:06 pm #

    I watch Panorama last night about mental health patients being treated like s*** I have mental health problems myself I do hope after this was filmed the patients were treated away way I should be I I break down in tears watching this made me mad how how could anyone do this to them hope you don’t mind me sending this message I am so glad someone filmed what was going on

  3. John Burton September 29, 2022 at 5:32 pm #

    So, again, what exactly is the point of CQC?

    • Miss Kitty September 29, 2022 at 8:46 pm #

      The whole programme was distressing, the lack of care and dignity towards the patients was disgusting. Some of the practices were torture! The poor families having to watch what was happening to their loved one was traumatic, the feelings of guilt they could be left with is a further abuse.
      The female support worker in my opinion should be jailed for her abuse both emotionally and physically towards patients. This woman was in the wrong employment, her bullying, cruelty, lack of empathy and compassion made me sad and angry to watch.
      Registered nurses and management should be struck off from the register of nursing, these so called professionals did not protect or care for their patients. Shame on them!
      Well done to the journalist who was more caring than any of those horrible hard hearted bullies.

    • Anne-Marie Marshall September 30, 2022 at 6:05 pm #

      No point at all John. I can’t get my head around why they give trusts notice of an intended visit so that any skeletons can be hidden away and staff primed with what to say to inspectors. Seems like a complete waste of tax payers money to me.

      • Said Ahmed October 1, 2022 at 7:50 pm #

        Actually, inspections are unannounced, but once they are there, it goes round the unit in seconds and everyone knows. That kind of behaviour doesn’t happen in front of outsiders

    • CQC's behind October 2, 2022 at 7:35 am #

      I used to work for a service which was, shall we say lacking.

      During a team meeting, the manager whilst rubbing his lazy mits with joy explained that CQC no longer really do comprehensive inspections and instead tend to focus on compliance in one area, so we’d better make sure that we are recording the fridge temp consistently.

  4. Liz Ferris September 30, 2022 at 4:51 pm #

    I am a parent of a patient in that hospital. My son is autistic and has schizophrenia, he is very vulnerable. He has been in there since the first lock down. After seeing first three minutes of the programme I couldn’t watch any more. I was shocked and horrified to say the least, angry. I have tried to get to speak to my son and nobody at the hospital will let me. I have called and called and they are being very evasive. I am in turmoil and need some answers. Nobody is giving me any. I am at a loss of what to do next.

    • Gareth Beaumont September 30, 2022 at 6:41 pm #

      my heart goes out to you as I understand completely how absolutely vile they are to deal with, and whilst in my opinion and experience these are not isolated incidents, far from them. I would say as someone who has friends who work in this sector this is the worst of the worst. Absolutely inexcusable and they are parasites, however as much as I detest this very organization I think it should be stripped of its ability to run any facility, I have to say they’re awesome good staff out their too.

      I can imagine how concerning it is for you before this story, I don’t know who you’ve been calling as I know again getting contact information from these people is horrendous. If you do struggle please come back to me and I will happily pass on all the information that I have available

    • Anne-Marie Marshall September 30, 2022 at 7:11 pm #

      I would get yourself a good solicitor to act on your behalf.

  5. Gareth Beaumont September 30, 2022 at 5:21 pm #

    Let’s be clear all parties involved have known about the shocking behavior for years. I can safely say that as somebody who has experienced it firsthand, thankfully not to the disgraceful level as a patient in a secure unit, but that wasn’t for them trying by falsifying information that was astonishing and so easy to disprove if only anyone like the police could be bothered to check. They can’t.

    When I myself highlighted this to the police to raise it as an offense, not only was I dismissed and told to go away on multiple occasions, I was done when trying to pursue it arrested for harassment and malicious communication which then saw me going to court and being found guilty in my absence of those offenses, despite being informed by the courts to be absent. You truly cannot make up how absolutely corrupt the whole system is.

    The police refused to investigate it, The IOPC claim that if the police don’t investigate the matter they can’t investigate a complaint against the police, and as we know the IOPC are completely in the pockets of the police and unable to be independent, and despite the last chief superintendent getting the boot because he allowed his offices to be as corrupt as they were. The new one seemingly is equally as happy to go along with that arrangement.

    They’re a disgrace.

    • Rose October 6, 2022 at 11:31 pm #

      100% they all know and turn a blind eye. Their job is to set and maintain the standards but instead they help lower it. I am a whistleblower and it’s a living nightmare sometimes I can’t sleep. I can’t tell
      Anyone how much it emotionally destroying me and I struggling and worst I am having pay for my own legal representation to be heard and There is little encouragement and lots of deflating warnings. There isn’t much support from even the union or speak up team either- those who meant to take the burden off. They Pretend to care, brush it off with rehearsed lines and meaninglessness apologies and give you phone numbers for counselling. They all Say speak up and then Anyone who dare speak up is targeted to look like the problem and driven out. Legal system are robust in defending criminal Acts of Registered staff and you have to try to stay strong fight remind yourself your pain will end and make a difference and improve a few patient care in future. To stop this media needs to be let in and show the public. We need to find a way to stop this pattern of immoral behaviour in all care setting. Why don’t people actually care enough to stand for better….

  6. Nick October 5, 2022 at 1:17 pm #

    I received a text from a friend desperately asking for help as he has no one in this country. he’s been taken to Mauldsley hospital where he’s being abused by staff. I went and was allowed a supervised visit.
    What should I do, please?


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