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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 16:53 GMT
Action pledge at psychiatric unit
Whitchurch Hospital
Medical and nursing leadership at the hospital is to be reviewed
Executives at a major psychiatric unit are promising new action over "clear and unacceptable failures" in the care of elderly mentally ill patients.

Medical and nursing leadership will be reviewed after patient safety concerns at Cardiff's Whitchurch Hospital.

In January, the BBC reported how two families said loved ones had died needlessly after incidents there.

The hospital's new moves follow action it took when a report queried patient safety just months before those deaths.

In a statement sent to the BBC news website on Friday, the trust said it was now taking measures over and above its original action plan.

The Cardiff and Vale NHS trust board, which runs Whitchurch, met on Thursday to discuss the concerns raised about care at the hospital. In January, the hospital admitted unacceptable failures in its care of two women who died after they had been admitted.

The BBC discovered Mary Niersmans, 81, from Llanishen in Cardiff, suffered two broken legs after being taken to the toilet by two male care assistants.

Mary Niersmans
Mary Niersmans' legs were broken for four days before she was treated

Despite complaining of pain, and a doctor recommending she should be X-rayed, Whitchurch Hospital staff did not send her for diagnosis for four days. She died at the University Hospital of Wales two weeks later.

Within months, Whitchurch Hospital admitted failures in its care of the late Peggy Cotter, 80, from Rumney in Cardiff.

A hospital investigation found nursing care below an acceptable standard, evidence of neglect, a lack of management and inappropriate and aggressive behaviour by staff towards Mrs Cotter and her family.

Both cases came after a report in March 2004 by the Welsh assembly's Clinical Governance Support and Development Unit.

It had questioned the safety of patients, saying staff had felt that lessons had not been learnt from serious incidents involving patients' welfare.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust Chief Executive Hugh Ross said Thursday's board meeting heard that senior clinicians and managers had agreed "an immediate series of actions designed to review what has, and has not been, done in response to the March 2004 report".

Peggy Cotter
Peggy Cotter suffered 'aggressive behaviour' from some staff

In its statement, the trust outlined a series of measures including more emphasis on patients' needs and action plans for individual wards. It said aimed to make it easier for people to suggest improvements and to highlight problems.

Finally, the trust said it was having discussions with community health councils and the Alzheimer's Disease Society. The society had set up a self-help group for families of patients at Whitchurch because of concerns about care.

A trust spokesperson said: "The measures back up the comprehensive long-term action plan which was put in place last year.

"Many improvements in facilities, staff training, reporting and management have already been made and the rest of the rolling action plan is now being reviewed and fast-tracked."

Patient lay dead for 10 hours
22 Sep 03 |  Wales
Brain charity's anger at man's care
12 Aug 03 |  South East Wales


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