A police investigation into “deeply distressing” allegations about the care of patients at a mental health ward in a north Wales hospital is to begin.
The Tawel Fan ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd near Rhyl, Denbighshire, was closed in December 2013 after the allegations were first made.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board suspended some staff at the time.
The board said it was “truly sorry to have let patients and their families down so badly”.
A meeting of the health board was told on Tuesday morning that North Wales Police would investigate claims made following an independent review into patient care on the ward.
Police had previously assisted the health board with its inquiry into the closure, which was sparked by “serious concerns”.
Peter Higson, chairman of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, told the meeting: “The allegations are deeply distressing and very serious. We are extremely concerned, and will do all we can to ensure they’re thoroughly investigated.
“I and the board recognise the immense stress this has placed on the families of those involved that we are not able to offer the closure they’ve been seeking for a number of months.
“I can assure them that I and the board are taking this extremely seriously, and have acted swiftly to investigate these allegations and to satisfy ourselves that everyone is receiving the care they should be.”
In a statement issued after the meeting by director of nursing and midwifery Angela Hopkins and medical director Matthew Makin, the board said the ward had remained closed since they were first alerted to concerns last year.
It added: “In January 2014 we commissioned an independent external reviewer to look at patient care on the ward. Forty members of staff and 15 family members contributed to the review and the findings have now been shared with us.
“We have been working with North Wales Police throughout this time.
“As a result, North Wales Police have now begun their own investigation into patient care on Tawel Fan ward.”
The board said they were taking the matter extremely seriously and had acted swiftly “to satisfy ourselves that all elderly mentally ill patients in our care are safe and are properly looked after”.
They said an interim director of mental health services had been brought in to focus on leadership, safety and quality.
They added: “A number of staff have already been suspended or moved to other duties away from direct patient care, pending the outcome of the investigations.
“As the matter is now the subject of an ongoing police investigation it would be inappropriate to add anything more, except that we are all truly sorry to have let patients and their families down so badly.”
Det Insp Lisa Surridge from North Wales Police’s public protection unit said: “Detectives will now begin reviewing in detail documents and other material gathered during the course of the review.
“In addition officers will make contact with identified family members of all those who were in-patients at Tawel Fan during the two-year period prior to the closure of the ward.
“The purpose of our review and meetings with family members is to establish if there is any evidence of criminality.”
- Anyone with concerns about mental health care at Tawel Fan Ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is asked to contact: 01745 818720
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