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Nurses suspended as police probe abuse at mental health hospital

Several staff members at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, have been suspended following allegations of ‘toxic culture’ by BBC’s Panorama programme

Several staff members at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, have been suspended following allegations of ‘toxic culture’ by BBC’s Panorama programme

Nurses were involved in a ‘toxic culture’ of abuse at one of the UK’s biggest mental health hospitals, where an investigation has found patients were sworn at and ‘inappropriately restrained’.

Several staff members at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, have been suspended and a police probe launched into allegations made by the BBC’s Panorama programme

Several staff members at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, have been suspended following allegations of ‘toxic culture’ by BBC’s Panorama programme

Some members of staff at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, were filmed using inappropriate restraint with one patient.
Some members of staff at Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, were filmed using ‘inappropriate’ restraint with one patient. Picture: BBC

Nurses were involved in a ‘toxic culture’ of abuse at one of the UK’s biggest mental health hospitals, where an investigation has found patients were sworn at and ‘inappropriately restrained’.

Several staff members at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, Manchester, have been suspended and a police probe launched into allegations made by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Taking allegations ‘very seriously’, says the trust at the centre of the BBC investigation

The centre cares for people held under the Mental Health Act 1983 who are at serious risk of harming themselves or others, including some patients from the criminal justice system.

Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust, which runs the centre, said it was taking the allegations ‘very seriously’ and has put ‘immediate actions’ in place to protect patient safety, including undertaking clinical reviews of the patients affected.

The programme, which broadcasted last night, saw staff, including nurses, secretly filmed swearing at patients and joking about their self-harm, and ‘inappropriately’ restraining a patient with autism.

Senior nurse watched and laughed as support worker slapped a patient’s skin

One patient with schizophrenia, who is not allowed to go to the bathroom alone for her own safety, is seen sitting on the lap of a support worker who said: ‘If you fart I will actually kill you’.

The support worker then pulled aside the patient’s clothing and repeatedly slapped her bare skin. A senior nurse was among those who watched on and laughed as the patient’s skin was slapped.

In another instance, a support worker was filmed laughing at a patient who had been in seclusion – rooms designed for short-term isolation to prevent immediate harm – for more than a year after reportedly attacking staff.

A nurse was shown watching the support worker, who said if she was running the centre patients in seclusion would ‘get straw bedding like cows’.

One nurse at Edenfield Centre was filmed saying that a patient ‘needs a good thrashing’.
One nurse was filmed saying that a patient ‘needs a good thrashing’. Picture: BBC

Another nurse is later filmed saying staff wanted to keep a patient with autism who had self-harmed in seclusion because staff ‘need a break from her’. On one occasion, the patient was also ‘inappropriately’ restrained by eight people and dragged to seclusion kicking and screaming.

Guidelines say patients should only be confined to one room and isolated from others for short periods when there is an ‘immediate necessity’ because they are likely to harm other people.

‘No excuse for the abuse we’ve been seeing,’ says mental health nursing professor

John Baker, a professor in mental health nursing at the University of Leeds, who was interviewed in the Panorama documentary, said: ‘It doesn’t feel safe. I think you are quite clearly seeing toxic staff and there has been an awful lot of hostility towards patients... which is really concerning.’

‘We’re seeing several registered nurses engaging in the behaviours, being a part of the crowd, not leading the crowd, and I think that’s the worrying thing around this – who’s setting the tone around clinical leadership on these wards?’

Shortages of mental health nurses were raised in the documentary, with Panorama reporting almost one in five nursing posts in mental health services were vacant.

Professor Baker added there should never be a shift without a registered nurse on the ward, but added that recruitment problems in mental health care were ‘no excuse for the abuse we’ve been seeing’.

‘Repulsed and ashamed’ – nurses take to social media following harrowing footage

Internal documents seen by the BBC from Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust, reportedly showed there were 58 times over a five-week period when adult secure wards did not have enough nurses. Nurses from other wards were called upon to provide cover.

Several nurses on social media said the harrowing footage made them feel ‘repulsed and ashamed’.


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