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"Institutional abuse" at Welsh hospital

An investigation into the Tawel Fan ward of Bodelwyddan's Glan Clwyd Hospital, Wales, has proven a string of allegations following initial concerns raised in December 2013.

The report's author, health specialist, Donna Ockenden, found the concerns raised proven and said they amount to "institutional abuse".

She said there was a lack of action by the senior leadership team after previous reports highlighting specific concerns within the service provided by the health board's Clinical Programme Group (CPG) responsible for mental health services.

There was also a lack of systematic review and little evidence of timely actions put in place by the team.

Ms Ockenden said it was also likely there was "significant under-reporting of serious incidents within the clinical areas led by the CPG.”

The health board confirmed eight members of nursing staff had been suspended on full pay. A "significant" number had also been transferred to other roles while others, including managers, had been "stood down.”

The independent report was commissioned by the health board which decided not to publish it until police completed their investigation and decided not to bring any charges.

In the report, families described seeing patients "constantly crawling on dirty floors" and being "like a zombie...drugged up.”

A family said that they found a relative in bed "in a pool of stale urine and it's so stale it was brown.” When they raised this issue, they were told: "Psychiatric nurses aren't very good at looking after physically ill people."

Chief executive, Prof Trevor Purt, said that the ward was "the worst case" he had seen. “On behalf of the health board, I am extremely sorry that we let our vulnerable patients and their families down so badly. The treatment of some patients on the ward described in the report was shocking, inexcusable and unacceptable and we acknowledge the immense distress that the families are feeling."

Shadow health minister, Darren Millar, said: "Anyone who's responsible for such poor levels of care shouldn't ever be allowed to look after patients again, and the senior leaders and managers in this organisation who allowed this to happen should face the sack."