Gwent NHS Trust’s mental health facilities criticised

A review of Gwent NHS Trust’s mental facilities has concluded that the organisation must overcome a series of “challenges” if it is to successfully deliver its services.

The review, from the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), was undertaken following concerns raised about the standard of services in the region by Health Minister Edwina Hart in the Senedd on May 20th, 2008.

While the report acknowledged that staff in the trust are committed to delivering good quality care it stated that there is a lot more work to do.

Issues were highlighted about the continued existence of ligature points – any equipment or parts of the buildings, such as large window handles or shower curtains – that could be used by patients to self-harm.

The HIW review found that although the trust had removed many ligature points a “large number” were still present in a number of sites. It revealed “that more than one member of staff told us that the necessary work had not been put in hand because of financial constraints. We are concerned about the level of priority given to such matters by the trust.”

HIW’s review of mental health facilities took place at the same time as an investigation into maternity services. Peter Higson, Chief Executive of HIW, said: “Maternity and Community and Mental Health Services provide people with care when they are most vulnerable and most in need of help and support. We therefore need to be assured that patients and their families receive the care we expect.

“It is clear from HIW’s reports that this has not always been achieved by Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, despite the best efforts of frontline staff.

“We decided to publish these reports together given that they raised common issues around leadership and management of the Trust. The Trust Board and senior management have taken on board HIW’s recommendations and prepared an action plan – which we will continue monitor -to address concerns for the benefit of patients and staff.

“I am content that both services have now improved considerably, and patients now receive safer, more effective care.”

Andrew Cottom, Acting CEO of Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust said “Safety is a top priority for the Trust. We accept the findings of these reports and have introduced measures to address them. We apologise for any deficiencies in the service provided to patients in Gwent”.

To read the review of Gwent NHS Trust’s mental health services please visit:

Police officers should have suicide intervention training

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has recommended that South Wales Police officers receive suicide intervention training.

The advice follows an investigation into the conduct of the force following the death of Carlo Johnson.

Mr Johnson, 30, called the police threatening suicide from a phone box near his home in March last year. An officer took him home but within an hour Mr Johnson died in a fire at his house.

An inquest has yet to take place and although the IPCC makes it clear that it can find no issues with the conduct of staff it nonetheless recommends that all frontline staff receive training to better equip themselves with suicide situations.

                   “The years of plenty have come to an end”

Welsh Assembly Government Finance Minister Andrew Davies has warned that public funding in the next few years may be badly hit by the economic downturn.

Mr Davies told BBC Wales’ Dragon’s Eye programme: “The years of plenty have come to an end”. He stated that a fall in spending would have a huge knock-on effect on health, education and local government spending.

Cardiff’s mental health services get spending boost

The Welsh Assembly Government is to invest more than £118million to improve mental health services in Cardiff.

Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart AM has announced plans to invest £50million for the development of a mental health assessment unit for older people at the University Hospital Llandough site. Meanwhile, a new £68million inpatient unit for working age adults will be built at Whitchurch Hospital.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust expects to submit final plans for the new units to the Health Minister in the spring. Subject to approval, work is scheduled to get underway in the next year; the units should be open to patients by October 2011.