Chesterfield mental health unit is 'safe' and 'caring', NHS insists

The Hartington Unit in Chesterfield.

Health chiefs have strongly insisted the Hartington Unit in Chesterfield is safe and caring after a former patient raised concerns.

The unit provides accommodation and care for people who have been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Joe Sutherland, of Chesterfield, stayed at the Hartington Unit on two occasions last year and described it as a 'terrifying place'.

He told the Derbyshire Times: "If you don't comply with the doctor's orders and take medication, they will drag you off to a padded room by force, sit on you and inject you multiple times with antipsychotics and sedatives so you don't fight back."

But Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - which operates the Hartington Unit - fiercely denied Mr Sutherland's claims.

A trust spokesman said: "There is no seclusion room at the Hartington Unit and certainly no padded room.

"The trust is committed to the Safewards model - an internationally recognised approach to how staff and patients on a ward work together to reduce conflict and containment as much as possible - and to a policy of minimising restraint wherever possible.

"Our inpatient staff have been invited to speak at international conferences about our efforts in this area.

"The Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated our inpatient services as 'good' for 'caring' in part because 'staff interaction with patients was respectful and appropriate to the needs of the patient' and 'staff offered patients a choice with respect to treatment options'.

"The CQC also rated our inpatient services as 'good' for 'responsive' in part because 'staff knew how to support patients who wanted to make a complaint'.

"If a member of staff were to sit on someone, they would be subject to disciplinary action.

"We take our responsibilities around medication very seriously."

Mr Sutherland added that patients were discharged 'completely hooked on medication, including antipsychotics'.

The trust spokesman responded: "The trust follows national guidelines in terms of the prescribing and administering of medication.

"There is a pharmacy team at the Hartington Unit who regularly attend ward rounds and carefully monitor medication levels.

"A recent CQC inspection of the trust brought up no significant concerns about medication levels as described in this (Mr Sutherland's) comment.

"The comment also implies that individuals are discharged from inpatient units and left with no support - this is not the case.

"Individuals will continue to be supported by the trust's community and crisis teams, according to the Care Programme Approach and with the involvement of their loved ones."

Mr Sutherland claimed junior nurses 'make up the bulk' of nurses at the Hartington Uniy and called for more senior nurses.

But the trust spokesman said: "We have processes in place to ensure that we adhere to safe staffing expectations and review the mix of junior and senior nurses on a regular basis."

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