Edinburgh mental health unit’s ‘Dickensian’ conditions criticised

File picture: Google
File picture: Google
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INSPECTORS who visited an NHS unit for men with learning difficulties found wallpaper hanging off the wall because of damp, a curtain secured by drawing pins and a shower room in an “unacceptable condition”.

A report by the Mental Welfare Commission also noted that some of the problems at Glenlomond in Morningside Park were ones they had highlighted on their last visit two years earlier.

Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is a terrible revelation. The treatment of any condition, but especially mental health problems, requires clean, well-decorated, appropriate accommodation.

“This harks back to the Dickensian treatment of people needing mental health care.”

Now the commission has recommended NHS Lothian should treat the damp, sort out the shower room and redecorate the premises throughout. Its report describes Glenlomond as a period house with a homely feel.

But it went on: “It is some years since Glenlomond was fully redecorated. We are concerned that the environment is, in most places, somewhat tired and in need of repainting.

“We noted throughout the house that some curtains were quite shabby. One was secured withdrawing pins.”

It said the downstairs shower room was in unacceptable condition. “There is chronic discolouration from dampness high on the wall. In our last report we recommended that estates considered painting this area.

“On this visit we found stains on the wall as before. The senior charge nurse was unsure whether the wall was repainted since our last visit.

“The wooden window frame was mouldy and dirty with paint flaked off the wood. Paint on the door was peeling and discoloured with mould. The flooring was discoloured and dirty at the edges.”

The report also said that in one bedroom there was “a large piece of wallpaper hanging off the wall which staff thought was due to damp. The room is an undignified environment for the patient to live in.”

Professor Alex McMahon, nurse director at NHS Lothian, said remedial works had already begun to address the recommendations.

She added: “It is NHS Lothian’s intention that we will move out of healthcare houses to provide care in more appropriate settings, and we will continue working towards that aim.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com