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NHS Mental heath patients filmed being bullied and humiliated, BBC's Panorama claims

Jul 13, 2023Jul 13, 2023

The footage is from an undercover BBC Panorama reporter who worked at the Edenfield Centre from March to June this year

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Vulnerable patients at a mental health unit run by the NHS have been filmed being subjected to abuse - including bullying, slapping and humiliation - according to BBC's Panorama. The footage was captured by an undercover reporter.

The reporter worked at Edenfield Centre between March and June this year. The film reportedly shows inappropriate use of restraint, according to experts, and faking of paperwork intended to ensure patient safety.

A number of staff have been suspended and police have launched a criminal investigation into the unit. The BBC says experts who have reviewed the findings said that in one instance some staff acted 'like a gang, not a group of health care professionals'.

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Staff at the facility located in a secure unit in the grounds of Prestwich Hospital were reportedly filmed slapping or pinching patients on occasion and mocking them, says Panorama. Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Edenfield, says it is taking the allegations 'very seriously' and has taken 'immediate actions to protect patient safety', the MEN reports.

The Edenfield Centre, which has 11 wards for men and women, cares for people who are at serious risk of harming themselves or others, including some patients from the criminal justice system. Around 600 staff are employed to care for 200 patients.

Panorama claims that some staff swore at patients, mocked them and were seen slapping or pinching them and joking about self-harm. They claimed that some female staff behaved in a sexualised way to male patients.

Patients were held in tiny seclusion rooms for days and sometimes months, it is claimed. Paperwork intended to ensure patient safety was frequently falsified, showing some staff had done patient observations when they hadn't, it is claimed. There was a 'toxic culture' among some staff of 'corruption, perversion, aggression, hostility, which was undermining patient recovery', it is claimed.

The BBC say one patient, diagnosed with schizophrenia, is not allowed to go to the bathroom alone for her own safety. Panorama says a female support worker was filmed humiliating the patient for having to supervise her while going to the toilet, complaining to her about 'having to look at your a******e, where biohazard f*****g waste comes out'.

One nurse was filmed, say the BBC, refusing to check on a crying patient, who has self-harmed and tried to kill herself. Some staff then laugh and joke about her, it is claimed.

A patient is filmed being dragged by the wrist from a chair and into a room down the corridor, it is claimed, for an injection. She is mocked with foul language as some staff hold her down on a bed, it is claimed.

Harley - an autistic woman who was at Edenfield due to self-harm - was sitting on the floor when at least eight members of staff picked her up and dragged her away, screaming, back to a seclusion room where she had already spent a fortnight, it is claimed. Harley gave the BBC her consent to be identified.

Some staff told the BBC's undercover reporter that Alice - not her real name - a patient who they said had attacked workers, had been in seclusion for more than a year.

Edenfield's seclusion rooms have a bed, shower and toilet, all of which can be observed by staff from an adjoining room. Some have mould, peeling paint, a smell of sewage and windows that don't open, the BBC claims.

The programme, the BBC says, shows that during one 30-minute break from seclusion, Alice spoke about her blanket and teddy bears, comforts which she had been allowed on a previous ward. A support worker allegedly told her: "You’re lucky you’ve not got a straw f*****g bed in there."

She added, it is claimed: "If I was to run a place like this, they'd get straw bedding, eat it as much as you want, you're only gonna s**t it out and fertilise the garden."

On another occasion, it is claimed, some staff were filmed trying to give Alice her anti-psychotic medication twice, because there appeared to be a breakdown in communication. Asked what would happen if she had too much of the drug, a nurse allegedly said: "She'd probably just die."

Hospital employees complained of understaffing and burnout, it is claimed. Sometimes, support workers were left on their own, with no nurse on the ward. There was a shortage of nurses for adult secure wards on 58 occasions, during one five-week period this summer, according to records from the trust which runs Edenfield and seen by Panorama.

Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust said senior doctors at the trust have undertaken clinical reviews of the patients affected and it had also commissioned an independent clinical review of the services provided at the Edenfield Centre, which has been closed to new admissions.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust told the Manchester Evening News today: "We are taking the allegations raised by Panorama very seriously since the BBC sent them to us earlier this month. We have put in place immediate actions to protect patient safety, which is our utmost priority.

"Since then, senior doctors at the Trust have undertaken clinical reviews of the patients affected, we have suspended a number of staff pending further investigations and we have also commissioned an independent clinical review of the services provided at the Edenfield Centre.

“We are working closely with local and national partners including NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and Greater Manchester Police to ensure the safety of these services. We will co-operate fully with all investigations. We owe it to our patients, their families and carers, the public and our staff that these allegations are fully investigated to ensure we provide the best care, every day, for all the communities we serve.”

Head of GMP’s Public Protection Department Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr earlier said: “It goes without saying that these allegations are concerning. Since they were brought to our attention, we have been working with partner agencies to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable individuals.

“We’ve also obtained the information required to open criminal investigations and enquiries are ongoing to ensure all offences are recorded and those involved identified.

“In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we are reviewing footage from Panorama with a view to prosecuting anyone who’s captured committing a crime. Anyone who has concerns about care they or a loved one has received should contact us or Crimestoppers.”


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