Scores of patients victims of Tawel Fan 'institutional abuse'

Figures published in an annual report on NHS complaints in North Wales has confirmed that at least forty two patients were harmed as a result of poor care on the Tawel Fan Ward at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

According to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board's annual "Putting Things Right" report, forty two out of a total one hundred and five cases which were subject to individual patient reports were deemed "determined harm caused", some 40% of the total.

Tawel Fan was one of four wards at the Ablett psychiatric unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital, and was closed in 2013 after allegations of abuse and neglect towards patients came to light.

Health expert Donna Ockenden, who investigated the concerns following the closure of Tawel Fan concluded that the care of vulnerable patients on the ward amounted to "institutional abuse" after considering concerns that patients were kept like "animals" and left in their own urine.

However, a further investigation by HASCAS (the Health and Social Care Advisory Service), an organisation whose former trustees have been linked to the Labour Party and Welsh Government, concluded that there was no evidence of "institutional abuse or neglect" and that levels of care and treatment on the ward were of a "good overall general standard".

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar said:

"These figures will reinforce the view that the HASCAS report into the care of vulnerable patients on Tawel Fan was a complete whitewash.

"Many of the former patients on Tawel Fan had no relatives to complain on their behalf so the actual number of patients who were harmed on the ward is likely to have been even higher than the forty two disclosed by the Health Board.

"When the Tawel Fan scandal broke families were promised that their loved ones suffering would not be in vain but instead they also became victims of a system which sought to cover up what went wrong and seemed to be more interested in managing the reputation of the Health Board than getting to the bottom of what went wrong.

"I am appalled at the way that families have been treated in recent years and, for the sake of those patients who suffered, I trust that this acknowledgement by the Health Board will now lead to some justice for those families who have been affected."