Call for ‘urgent’ action on mental health services

The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People was due to open in autumn but has been delayed to May. Picture: Contributed
The new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People was due to open in autumn but has been delayed to May. Picture: Contributed
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Mental health watchdogs have heavily criticised NHS Lothian for failing to act on recommendations to improve services for young people at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The Mental Welfare Commission are urging action is taken immediately after their previous findings from a visit to The Tipperlinn Young People’s Unit in July 2016 had not been fully acted upon.

They said “little improvement” had been made in the provision of a nursing care plan for the unit which has 12 inpatient places for youngsters with mental health problems.

The Commission were told that work had started on improving the written care plans but had been postponed due to several staff changes including the senior charge nurse post.

They also heard how staff resources were stretched due to having to provide cover to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Shadow Health Secretary, Miles Briggs, said: “It is concerning that the Mental Welfare Commission has had representations from relatives and patients about staffing shortages at the Young People’s Unit.

“I welcome the fact that plans are in place to increase nursing staff within the unit. I hope this can take place as soon as 
possible and that NHS Lothian will continue to monitor carefully staffing levels at the unit.”

The recommendations from the latest visit by the Commission included: as a matter of urgency the service manager and senior nurse should audit nursing care plans, managers and the senior charge nurse should audit the individual care files and managers should encourage nurses to create a structured activity planner for the patients.

Daniel Johnson, Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said the report’s findings were “alarming”, adding: “It is vital the recommendations are implemented as soon as possible.”

The Evening News reported earlier this month how the opening of the Capital’s new children’s hospital had been delayed for another two months.

The £150 million Royal Hospital for Children and Young People was initially due to open this autumn, only to be delayed until next February or March but it is understood that date will be put back again until May next year at the earliest.

Professor Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian’s Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Healthcare Professionals, said: “We welcome the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland report. We accept all the report’s recommendations. Recommendations in relation to care planning are being addressed as a priority to ensure compliance. The recommendations for improvements to group work are also being acted on.

“We will update the MWC on progress by October as they request.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the report identified “positive work”, but added: “However the report identifies a number of improvements which must be made as a matter of urgency and we expect NHS Lothian to address the recommendations in full.”