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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Fears over elderly mental health care
Generic image of an elderly woman in care
Levels of care at Rowan were "unacceptable"
An investigation into mistreatment of elderly mental health patients in Manchester has condemned a hospital's "total management failure".

The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) investigation said standards at Withington Hospital's Rowan ward left patients open to abuse.

It said its findings raised fears about care standards across the UK.

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust accepted the report made "grim reading" and said it was trying to improve services to elderly people in need of psychiatric care.

The investigation followed allegations last year of mental and physical abuse against 10 patients on the ward.

The whole health community in Manchester has failed to ensure vulnerable older people with mental health problems are safe
Dr Linda Patterson, CHI

Acting CHI chief Jocelyn Cornwell said: "The care received by vulnerable older people on Rowan Ward was unacceptable, but we are seriously concerned that circumstances surrounding this investigation are not unique.

"The care of older people nationally is very concerning.

"NHS managers and commissioners should take a good look at this report and ensure recommendations are embedded in their own services."

I will never ever believe that these incidents involving my mum were accidental. I believe she was being abused
Norma Chatt, daughter of patient Lucy Caline
Although officials did not examine specific claims of abuse, the CHI said the trust's nursing care was old-fashioned with a closed culture.

One example they used was that patients' clothing was changed and hygiene needs addressed according to routine, rather when the need arose.

Among the complainants was Norma Chatt, whose mother Lucy Caline suffered repeated black eyes while on Rowan ward.

She said she refused to believe that they were purely the result of her mother's dementia.

She told BBC North West Today: "I will never ever believe that these incidents involving my mum were accidental.

"I believe she was being abused."

The report makes a number of recommendations, including strengthening management and leadership at every level of the trust and a need for the health authority to monitor the quality of patient care.

The standards of care on Rowan Ward were not acceptable
Andrew Butters, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
The trust's chief executive Andrew Butters admitted the report was damning and said the trust should have done more to prevent the abuse.

He said: "We should have become aware of it earlier.

"The standards of care on Rowan Ward were not acceptable and we have already taken action to ensure that this does not happen again."

He said action included the closure of the ward and the relocation of patients to a new site in Wythenshawe.

Andrew Butters speaks to the BBC's Clare Smith
"I believe that we did react quickly once the allegations were made"

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