Bosses at a Northampton mental health hospital have hit back at a Channel Four documentary in which a former minister said he believed a patient had been treated like a “prisoner”.
The episode of Dispatches last night saw producers interview two ex-patients at St Andrew’s Hospital, following its “requires improvement” Care Quality Commission rating of September 2016.
Both interviewees claimed to have been physically restrained or secluded during their time there.
One patient, Fauzia Yasmin Hussain, 19, claimed to have remained mostly in segregation for 22 months in a room with “very little natural daylight”.
She was visited by former Coalition Government minister in charge of Learning Disabled Care, Norman Lamb, at the time.
In a press release issued before the show, Mr Lamb is quoted as saying: “I went to St Andrew’s in Northampton, and saw Fauzia in her room, which in effect was a cell, it seemed to be that a 15-year-old girl was being treated in effect like a prisoner.
“It was one of the most shocking things that I’ve seen in my time in Parliament. Just as a human being, I was just horrified.”
St Andrew’s has refuted the allegations, though bosses say they cannot speak about an individual’s care due the Data Protection Act.
Communications manager Tom Bingham said: “Obviously we care deeply about the welfare of or family and patients. We take these accusations extremely seriously.
“But we do believe that the programme portrays a distorted view of the work our staff do day-in-day-out.”
On Mr Lamb’s comments, Mr Bingham confirmed the former minister did visit – but he said the Conservative only spent an hour at the facility.
He said: “He (Mr Lamb) refused to discuss the patient with our clinical staff [during the visit]. He did not discuss any of these concerns during the visit and he has not made a formal complaint,” Mr Bingham said.
The other former patient interviewed as part of the show, Matthew Garnett, claimed he was restrained 11 times in his first five months there.
Mr Bingham said 90 per cent of St Andrew’s patients were sectioned there under the Mental Health Act, which he said meant some were “extremely ill” and meant staff had to work in “extremely challenging circumstances.
He added: “We don’t accept the allegations. We think they are misleading.”
Channel Four said the show aimed to highlight how thousands of people with severe learning disabilities and autism were still in hospitals, despite promises made by the Government in its Transforming Care Policy.
Programme makers said they decided to investigate St Andrews following the Care Quality Commission’s 2016 report.
That report found patients were being subject to “prone restraint” – or face down restraint across all of the hospital’s wards.
A statement from St Andrew’s said restraint could be used as a “last resort… to protect the individual, other patients and their medical teams.”
Over six months in 2015/16 the CQC claimed to have found over 600 incidents of prone restraint in the facility’s child and adolescent wards.
St Andrew’s was given a “requires improvement” rating in 2013 and again in 2016.