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Hill Crest mental health unit to close after safety concerns. – BBC News

Screenshot, The Trust says the building cannot be adapted to meet the latest acute mental health standards.

  • Author, Michele Paduano
  • Role, BBC Midlands Today, Health Correspondent

A mental health unit for troubled inpatients appears to be on the verge of closing due to a series of safety concerns.

These include fires, patients suffering broken bones and staff expressing fears about the risk of deaths at Hill Crest, Redditch.

To make up for the shortage of staff, the trust that runs the centre is currently spending £2.5m a year on staff from agencies and banks, the BBC has learned.

Herefordshire & Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said the proposed closure was because the building could not be adapted to meet the latest acute mental health standards.

The BBC first identified the problems at Hill Crest when staff locked themselves in the office in July 2022, after a patient threatened to burn them down.

An investigation identified allegations of rape involving patients, staff sleeping on the job, patients absconding and harassment.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection found significant deterioration in the safety and quality of the ward.

In response, patient numbers were reduced from 18 to 10 to improve staffing ratios and safety.

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Unison has warned that more staff could leave

However, staff raised further concerns in a letter stating that although patient numbers had fallen, those admitted were more seriously ill.

The letter said: “Staff are under a lot of pressure and we have people on sick leave with depression and anxiety due to the stress of the ward and the lack of support we receive.”

  गजब ! आ गई माइग्रेन ठीक करने वाली डिवाइस, पहनने से दूर हो जाएगा असहनीय दर्द, जानें कीमत

The trust said staff and management have since worked incredibly hard to improve standards of care and the environment on the wards.

He added that he acknowledged the building could not be adapted to meet the latest standards of care, which include rooms with private bathrooms and good sight lines for staff throughout the ward.

A spokesperson said: “Our aim as an organisation is to run two main mental health inpatient campuses, one in Hereford and one in Worcester, with wards and teams co-located on unique sites that provide strong immediate support for our services.”

It is hoped that sharing staff with the Elgar Unit in Worcester could result in cost savings in agency staffing.

‘Staff could leave’

Claire Breese of the Unison union said more staff could leave because they were unwilling to drive 30 miles (48.2 kilometres) to Worcester to work.

She said: “We have had a lot of concern amongst staff about this move. They don’t think it will make any difference to staffing levels.”

The union said the move risked creating further instability.

Collette Kearney, a former nurse, believes the unit could have been saved if management had taken action sooner.

“Years ago, when I raised my concerns, they had the opportunity to focus on the problems. Patients and staff have felt defrauded of this trust,” he added.

The trust said it had completed a series of engagement and listening events with staff and the public, a presentation and supervision at HOSC and had followed NHSE processes.

“A report seeking ratification of this decision will be submitted to the Board of Directors in July, and formal consultation with staff will then begin,” he said.

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