‘Mental health patients treated like ‘animals in a zoo’ at Ablett Unit in North Wales, report finds’ ITV News 28 May 2015

A sign for unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd hospital in Rhyl. Credit: PA

A sign for unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd hospital in Rhyl. Credit: PA

ITV News: ‘Mental health patients treated like ‘animals in a zoo’ at Ablett Unit in North Wales, report finds‘ 28 May 2015

“Patients were kept “like animals in a zoo” at a mental health unit in Wales, families have said.

An investigation into the Ablett psychiatric unit in Rhyl, North Wales has found a series of alarming allegations to be true.

These included:

  • Patients being sworn at by staff
  • Patients left unsupervised for hours at a time
  • Patients nursed on the floor in corridors and rooms
  • Patients being left in urine-soaked beds
  • One patient left lying in their own excrement
  • Furniture used to restrain patients

The unit was closed down in 2013 after “serious concerns” were raised by medical staff and families.

North Wales Police launched an investigation and several members of staff were also suspended.

The Health Board also ordered an external independent review, which has now been published.

Executive Medical Director Dr Matthew Makin said the failures were down to a lack of robust checks in place and poor communication with the families.”

“The family of one patient described what they saw as “like when you go in a zoo and see animals that have been captured there for a long time and that’s all they’ve got to do is walk around and around.”

Ablett Unit report: Five key recommendations

The report also details one occasion when a patient was complaining of discomfort in their arm.

The report says the response from staff was: ‘Oh [the patient] did complain of a painful arm, but we didn’t take much notice really.’

After being taken to an Accident & Emergency department, the patient was diagnosed with a broken wrist, the investigation found.

The chief executive of the Betsi Cadwaladr University health board has apologised.

“I am extremely sorry that we let our our vulnerable patients and their families down so badly.

We have prioritised a range of work to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

– Trevor Purt ITV

News reporter Ben Chapman on film:

“...but perhaps the most shocking of all is that when patients’ relatives raised concerns about what was happening here they were ignored.  And worse, staff turned the blame on them, accusing them of being unreasonable …


I’m speaking out about my son’s dehumanising treatment in Stratheden Hospital, near Cupar, in respect of my complaint against NHS Fife health board being upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

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