Families speak out over Tawel Fan

Tawel Fan families speak out for first time over care

  • 30 June 2015
  • From the section North East Wales

Families have spoken out for the first time about the “deplorable” care their loved ones received at a Denbighshire mental health ward.

The damning report into the Tawel Fan ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital revealed patients were “kept like animals”.

Three families told BBC Wales’ Week In Week Out about their despair and shock at the brutality of care on the ward.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board chairman Dr Peter Higson said the ward will never be used again.

The families said they are upset at the contents of the report, shocked at its findings and they are still worried about the consequences of speaking out.

One family member, Sandra, not her real name, first raised concerns about her husband’s care on the ward in November 2012, a year before it closed.

“I found him lying flat in a pool of stale urine. There was a brown mark which is a clear indication that the urine is old,” she said.


Families described patients being treated like animals in a zoo at the Tawel Fan unit

Sandra kept a log of incidents, including a member of staff slapping him and how he was head-butted by another patient.

The final straw for Sandra, a former nurse, was when she saw staff restraining her husband using furniture and shutting him in a dark room by himself.

“I was extremely disappointed, angry that my husband and others were treated in such a deplorable way by people who call themselves nurses,” she said.

A member of another family, Margaret, also not her real name, believes the ward should be bulldozed. Her mother was admitted to the ward in November 2012 with dementia.

“It should be destroyed. It should be obliterated,” she said.

“As for the staff… they know who they are. They have to hold their heads in shame.”


Family member Margaret, not her real name, talked of her distress at her mother’s treatment on the ward

Dr Higson said bulldozing the ward is a possibility and has said it will never be used again.

Week In Week Out has also revealed major new concerns over standards of care at another unit, the Gwanwyn Ward at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, following a spot check last December.

The programme has discovered there have been 47 allegations of assault on the ward over the past 12 months.

Richard Lumley, whose father died there last November following an incident where he sustained head injuries, said questions still surrounded his death.

“I believe, I try to recall now, being told by a member of staff that another patient had been involved in the incident which led to dad’s fall,” he claimed.


Dr Peter Higson said the health board would have no hesitation in closing another ward if necessary

Dr Higson said he will look into the allegations put to him by BBC Wales but he is not aware of any “undue concern”.

He has also spoken about the events that led to the health board being placed in special measures and the suspension of chief executive Trevor Purt.

The Welsh government has since appointed Simon Dean, the deputy head of the NHS in Wales, as interim chief executive of the health board. Progress will be reviewed in three months.

Week In Week Out: Kept like Animals, 22:40 BST, BBC1 Wales

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