Key failings exposed within Greater Manchester mental health services

  • Image: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
  • Greater Manchester mental health services have been deemed “inadequate” in several key areas by CQC.
  • Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust have promised they are “committed to making the changes” necessary.
  • Chairman of Trust, Rupert Nichols has stepped down.

The Care Quality Commission has issued a report exposing severe “inadequacies” in the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Chairman of the trust, Rupert Nichols, has stepped down amid the controversy. He will be replaced by former NHS director Bill McCarthy in the new year.

Report findings

The report found safety inadequate across three core mental health services – acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units, forensic inpatients/secure wards, mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety.

The findings concluded: “the ward environments were not all safe, clean, maintained or well presented. We had significant concerns about fire safety in the acute wards. Ligature audits were poor because they did not identify all risks or effectively mitigate these.

“The service did not have enough registered nurses and healthcare assistants to ensure that patients got the care and treatment they needed. Staff frequently worked under the minimum staffing establishment levels, wards had unfilled shifts, and there was not always a registered nurse present.”

‘It’s heartbreaking what families are going through’

Mother of Patient

The mother of a 21-year-old patient in the Greater Manchester mental health system has spoken out about their experience over the past 18 months. She didn’t want to be named for privacy reasons.

She explained that after an overnight stay at home, her daughter’s bed was immediately given to another patient. It had initially taken three weeks for her to get the bed at all – first sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

She said: “It’s 100% a problem across all facilities. Look at all the young lives lost. It’s heartbreaking what families are going through.

“There are patients with psychosis mixed with patients with autism and borderline personality disorders. You’ve got patients of all ages. The fact that a 21-year-old has to share a room with a 60-year-old – I mean, that’s not going to help anyone’s mental health.

“She got attacked in there a couple of months ago. I only knew because she rang me crying. I rang the police.

“I’ve made a complaint through customer care. I’ve done it a few times. I don’t know how it works but the ward manager gets the email before anyone else and she’ll ring me. Like I say they’ll give me a spiel, but none of it gets done.

“But I’m not taking it back this time I’m leaving it. I don’t know where it goes from there.

“It’s agency staff constantly. One night I phoned and they told me she wasn’t even there, but she was sitting in her room. I phone, I leave voicemails, and no one ever gets back to me.”

The future is looking bright for her daughter but she “feels for all the other boys and girls” still struggling in the system.

Trust response

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation 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 underway in order to build better and more sustainable services. Our single improvement plan incorporates a range of immediate actions identified in recent weeks, alongside various longer-term ambitions.

“Furthermore, our enrolment in the NHS England recovery support programme will provide us with access to additional expertise and resource to ensure that sustainable improvements are made as quickly as possible.

“We are pleased that the CQC did find that a number of our key services, including our mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety, demonstrate good care and management. Going forward, we are determined to build upon these areas of best practice.”