One of the NHS’s largest mental health services has been told to make “widespread reforms” after some staff members were filmed allegedly abusing patients in mental health wards.
A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of services at the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust found “serious” safety problems in some acute and secure mental health wards.
Among its findings, the regulator revealed that “services were not always careful”, that there were not enough properly trained staff and that there were “significant concerns” about the sexual safety of patients in mixed wards.
Adult community mental health care was also considered to require improvement.
The regulator has now issued a foreclosure warning to the trust and a deadline to make improvements.
Helen, who is not her real name, told Sky News her adult daughter had been “let down” by the trust after suffering a psychotic breakdown.
She said her daughter tried to kill herself, but it was a “fight” to get help.
“I desperately needed help, but it took a long time to get it,” Helen said.
“I felt that there was nothing. No help. I asked him [mental health services] for help, but they were busy, they didn’t have enough time.
“It was always me calling the police, calling the ambulance, driving to find her if she was missing.”
She added: “I felt like, on the one hand, I needed the services, but on the other hand, I had to ask myself: what do mental health services really provide?
“I feel like they could have been doing a lot more, in terms of psychological and social therapies, to help her recover.”
Helen’s daughter was admitted to a ward under the trust’s care, but Helen said she is “scared” for her daughter after reports of mistreatment of patients at some of her facilities.
She said, “You don’t know, when you’re not in those rooms with them, the person you really care about, how are they experiencing the services?”
Intimidation, mockery and humiliation
Earlier this year, a BBC undercover team filmed staff intimidating, taunting and humiliating patients at one of the trust’s facilities.
Some patients were unnecessarily isolated for long periods and others were physically restrained for no reason.
A spokesperson for the trust said: “We accept the findings of recent CQC inspections in our trust and are committed to making the changes and improvements that users of our service deserve.
“Work is already underway to build better and more sustainable services.”
But local mental health campaigner Paul Baker told Sky News that families had raised concerns about the trust’s care services more than two years ago.
At that point, Baker said, the trust heads responded that there was no problem.
Mr Baker, co-founder of CHARM, a group for better holistic mental health services, told Sky News: “We knew it was not good, about care, and this is something I think the review process needs to consider: How come senior management has been so insulated from the realities of what’s happening on the ground?”
He added: “We don’t just blame the trust. We think the trust probably faces a lot of problems that are shared by other trusts across the country, and we would support the idea of some kind of real root.” review of branches across the country about what we’re doing with mental health and how we’re supporting people.
NHS England this week placed the trust under the highest level of management intervention. It will also conduct its own independent review.