Mental health workers ‘fell asleep while on suicide watch’

Hill Crest Ward in Redditch, Worcestershire
Hill Crest Ward in Redditch, Worcestershire

Staff at a troubled mental health ward were caught sleeping while monitoring patients on suicide watch, whistleblowers have claimed.

Sources allege there have also been multiple cases of patient-on-patient abuse at Hill Crest Ward in Redditch, Worcestershire.

One patient had his jaw broken by another, while an elderly woman was punched in the face by a younger male patient, sources told the BBC.

Images of staff who appear to be asleep in an office, in full view of patients, were also shared with the broadcaster.

In one example, sources said a nurse fell asleep twice while on level-three observation, during which a patient should be watched at all times as they are at risk of killing themselves.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, which runs the ward, said none of the reports had occurred after it had made improvements to its services around a month ago.

‘Staff feel unsafe and ill-equipped’

A series of reports into the 25-bed, mixed gender ward, have highlighted cases of violence against staff and issues of patient safety.

In one case, staff reportedly locked themselves in an office while a patient ran around armed with boiled water.

Unison, which represents workers at the trust, said staff were left feeling unsafe and ill-equipped to do the job.

Following the boiling water incident the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an unannounced inspection in July, but the findings are yet to be published.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We are aware of incidents at the Hill Crest Unit where the behaviours and standards of professionalism had fallen significantly short of what we would expect. We are in regular contact with the CQC and have shared issues and complaints with them to ensure openness and transparency.

“The CQC carried out a full inspection of Hill Crest in July. We had the opportunity to discuss the issues raised with the inspectors at the time and implemented an immediate action plan and more recently a comprehensive improvement plan. We have also run further sessions with staff to enhance the wider support available to them.”

He said there is “more work to do” to improve the standard of care at Hill Crest, but added some changes made over the last few months “are now beginning to have a more positive impact on the culture within the Unit, and on the treatment, safety and overall experience of our patients and staff”.