Former Patient of 'Unsafe' Mental Health Hospital Calls For Reform

Former Patient of ‘Unsafe’ Mental Health Hospital Calls For Reform

A former patient of a private medical hospital that has been placed into special measures after being deemed ‘unsafe’ is calling for reform.  

St Andrew’s Hospital, in Northamptonshire, was placed into special measures on Thursday (June 6) after it was rated in inadequate following an inspection by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The inspector’s report revealed instances of staff segregating and secluding patients for “longer than necessary”, while also failing to respect a female patient’s dignity while she was changing.

The news comes after the CQC released a damning report about locking up people with autism and learning difficulties indefinitely in segregated hospitals across the UK.

RightsInfo spoke to 28-year-old Abigail Donohoe, who stayed St Andrew’s for two and a half years between 2013 and 2017, to get her thoughts on what should be done.

I do not think people should be warehoused in inpatients units.

Abigail Donohoe

“I do not think people should be warehoused in [inpatients units],” she said. “There should be crisis centres where people should spend between three weeks and three months depending on the case.”

Abigail, who now lives in Shropshire with family, spoke of how she spent more than six years, on and off, in various inpatient units being kept in seclusion for “hours at a time”. She added that she spent an extra year at one inpatient unit because “there was nowhere else to put me”.

“Ideally, I feel that most adults with autism or similar conditions, of all abilities, should live in small, carefully matched groups, with access to therapy tailored to their specific needs,” she said.

“In times of crisis, like [for] diabetic or schizophrenic patients, these individuals should be able to access a local acute setting, for a short period of time, with their human rights respected and with as much access to family and friends, as well as meaningful activities, as is possible.”

She added: “Families, and where possible, service users themselves, must be listened to. Those are the real experts, by experience.”

What Were The Findings Of The Report Into St Andrew’s?

Image Credit: Pixabay

The latest CQC report found that seclusion rooms lacked beds and basic furnishing such as pillows with records referring to patients sitting or lying on the floor in them.

Inspectors found that on one occasion male staff were present when a female patient was changing her clothes.

They said that was “uncaring, undignified, and disrespectful to the patient”.

They also found:

  • Sharp edges on door frames in seclusion rooms and extra care suites
  • Discrepancies between written incident reports, staff recollection of incidents and images of those incidents captured on CCTV
  • Some patients told inspectors agency staff were “not always as nice” as permanent staff

St Andrew’s chief executive Katie Fisher told the BBC: “We are confident that when the CQC returns to inspect the St Andrew’s Healthcare Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in the next six months, they will see significant improvement that will be reflected in an improved rating.”

Read more on this subject:

Featured Image Credit: Abigail Donohoe.

Help us increase understanding and support for human rights in the UK.

About the Author

Aaron Walawalkar

News and Digital Editor
Aaron is an NCTJ-accredited multimedia journalist focussing on human rights. His extensive reporting on rough sleeping in east London has been nominated for multiple awards. He has worked for regional and national newspapers and produced illustrations, infographics and videos for humanitarian organisation RedR UK. View all posts by Aaron Walawalkar.
Former Patient of ‘Unsafe’ Mental Health Hospital Calls For Reform
Share this: