One of the biggest NHS mental health services has been told it must make “widespread reforms” after some staff were filmed allegedly abusing patients on mental health wards.
A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of services at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust found “serious” safety issues on some acute and secure mental health wards.
Among its findings, the regulator revealed that “services were not always caring”, that there were not enough properly-trained staff, and that there were “significant concerns” about patients’ sexual safety on mixed-sex wards.
Community-based mental health care for adults was also deemed to require improvement.
The regulator has now issued an enforcement warning to the trust and a deadline for improvements to be made.
Helen, not her real name, told Sky News her adult daughter had been “let down” by the trust after having a psychotic breakdown.
She said her daughter tried to kill herself but that it was a “fight” to get any help.
“She needed help desperately, but it took a long time to get that help,” Helen said.
“I just felt there was nothing. No help. I did ask [mental health services] for help but they were busy, they didn’t have enough time.
“It was always me ringing the police, ringing the ambulance, driving around to find her if she’d gone missing.”
She added: “It felt like on one hand she needs the services, but on the other you have to ask: what do mental health services actually provide?
“I feel they could have been doing so much 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 patient mistreatment at some of its facilities.
She said: “You don’t know, when you’re not on those wards with them – the person you really care about – what are they experiencing services as?”
Bullying, mocking and humiliation
Earlier this year, a BBC undercover team filmed staff bullying, mocking and humiliating patients at one of the trust’s facilities.
Some patients were isolated for long periods unnecessarily and others were physically restrained for no reason.
A spokesman for the trust said: “We accept the findings of the CQC’s recent inspections at our trust and are committed to making the changes and improvements that our service users deserve.
“Work is already under way in order 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 the time, Mr Baker said, trust bosses responded that there was no issue.
Mr Baker, co-founder of CHARM, a group for better holistic mental health services, told Sky News: “We knew it wasn’t good, about the care, and this is something I think that the review process needs to look at: how come senior management have 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 is probably facing quite a lot of issues that are shared by other trusts around the country, and we would support the idea of some kind of real root-and-branch review across the nation about what we are doing with mental health and how we are supporting people.”
NHS England this week placed the trust under the highest level of management intervention. It will also be conducting its own independent review.