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25 May 2023

SANE comments on care concerns at mental health unit

A report Sleeping staff, patients on the roof – life inside Gloucester’s mental health intensive care unit – Sky News has added to growing concerns about the state of mental health services across the country.

The worries expressed by parents and families join an alarming series of media reports, undercover investigations and NHS care service inquiries over the past six months, that appear to reflect a system struggling to keep up with rising demand.???


Marjorie Wallace, SANE founder and chief executive, said: “One word sums up this harrowing report and it is ‘unforgivable’.

“However hard-pressed services are there’s no excuse to ignore the pleas of patients that know they’re too ill to be discharged or allowed to abscond when they feel unsafe and not in control of their inner voices.

“There’s equally no excuse for staff to fail to listen to families, not record their concerns or exclude them from the loop of communication.

Red flags

“It’s not just in Gloucestershire we see and hear of these reports, we are supporting families in Essex who are campaigning for a statutory public inquiry into the deaths of what could be up to 2000 patients over 20 years.

“We are also supporting the campaign of families following the deaths of three girls under the care of NHS mental health services in the northeast.

“There are other trusts where we are aware of the same desperation of patients and families where all the red flags of the risks posed have apparently been ignored, where the professionals into whose care they have been entrusted have failed in their duty to provide safe treatment and protect lives or prevent serious injury of very vulnerable people.


“What is particularly sad is that a great deal could have been done and still could be done. It doesn’t require simply huge new resources but common sense, courtesy and respect.

“The underlying problem is that all trusts in the country are suffering from a dearth of available psychiatric beds, a lack of consultant psychiatrists, and not enough skilled and experienced psychiatric nurses, while in many cases relying on agency staff who do not always know the patients’ story and are unable to recognise or act when they are at risk.

“If we don’t change that culture more patients will lose their lives or suffer severe injury and families will continue to be ripped apart.”

Further reading:

Wotton Lawn: Councillors call for briefing on psychiatric unit – BBC News

SANE offers non-judgemental and compassionate emotional support and services to anyone affected by mental illness, as well as carers and families

Where to get urgent help for mental health – NHS (

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