Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Body-worn cameras introduced at mental health ward after assault alleged

The mental health hospital treats patients from across north east London

Hero for Body-worn cameras introduced at mental health ward after assault alleged
Sunflowers Court at Goodmayes Hospital (Google Streetview)

An East London mental health hospital is piloting body-worn cameras for staff after allegations of serious assault against female patients.An East London mental health hospital is piloting body-worn cameras for staff after allegations of serious assault against female patients.

In autumn last year, three serious assaults were alleged at the women's in-patient unit at Goodmayes Hospital, which treats people from all across north east London.In autumn last year, three serious assaults were alleged at the women's in-patient unit at Goodmayes Hospital, which treats people from all across north east London.

The North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), which runs the hospital, initially failed to report the incidents to the local social services due to a culture of secrecy.The North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), which runs the hospital, initially failed to report the incidents to the local social services due to a culture of secrecy.

Speaking yesterday, the chair of Redbridge's independent safeguarding adults board John Goldup said it was now clear there was a "major issue about safety and quality of care" at Sunflowers Court late last year.Speaking yesterday, the chair of Redbridge's independent safeguarding adults board John Goldup said it was now clear there was a "major issue about safety and quality of care" at Sunflowers Court late last year.

He told councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Board: “The evidence of patients being abused - the way in which those events came to light - I do think is very concerning.He told councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Board: “The evidence of patients being abused - the way in which those events came to light - I do think is very concerning.

“The low level of safeguarding concerns being raised from such a unit, particularly in relation to patient on patient aggression, should have raised alarm bells.“The low level of safeguarding concerns being raised from such a unit, particularly in relation to patient on patient aggression, should have raised alarm bells.

“But the robustness of NELFT’s response is extremely encouraging and I think one can have a lot of confidence.“But the robustness of NELFT’s response is extremely encouraging and I think one can have a lot of confidence.

“I do think it’s crucial going forward that we don’t take our eyes off that ball, and continued close monitoring is essential.”“I do think it’s crucial going forward that we don’t take our eyes off that ball, and continued close monitoring is essential.”

Following the incidents, NELFT carried out an "urgent review", which found both patients and staff were at risk of "violence and aggression" on the ward. Following the incidents, NELFT carried out an "urgent review", which found both patients and staff were at risk of "violence and aggression" on the ward. 

Measures taken include "large scale redeployment of staff", hiring a full-time safeguarding professional and daily visits by advocates from mental health charity MIND.Measures taken include "large scale redeployment of staff", hiring a full-time safeguarding professional and daily visits by advocates from mental health charity MIND.

The ward also has a new CCTV system and is piloting body worn cameras on staff, according to Dr Claire Williams, who was hired to lead the programme.The ward also has a new CCTV system and is piloting body worn cameras on staff, according to Dr Claire Williams, who was hired to lead the programme.

Dr Williams told NELFT’s monthly board meeting last week (23rd November): “We know there were some concerning and worrying patient safety incidents in the autumn of 2020.Dr Williams told NELFT’s monthly board meeting last week (23rd November): “We know there were some concerning and worrying patient safety incidents in the autumn of 2020.

“We recorded that in some areas there were some unhealthy and unsafe cultures that were indicative of what the [Care Quality Commission] calls ‘closed cultures’.”“We recorded that in some areas there were some unhealthy and unsafe cultures that were indicative of what the [Care Quality Commission] calls ‘closed cultures’.”

A NELFT spokesperson added: “We take patient safety incidents extremely seriously and, in relation to the incidents at Sunflowers Court, we have apologised to those involved and ensured patients and their loved ones have been fully supported.  A NELFT spokesperson added: “We take patient safety incidents extremely seriously and, in relation to the incidents at Sunflowers Court, we have apologised to those involved and ensured patients and their loved ones have been fully supported.  

“We have [now] engaged our NHS and local authority partners, including our local safeguarding leads, as well as staff and patients, to learn from these incidents and take forward actions.“We have [now] engaged our NHS and local authority partners, including our local safeguarding leads, as well as staff and patients, to learn from these incidents and take forward actions.

“We have done this through an improvement plan across our inpatient services, focused on safety and quality of care."“We have done this through an improvement plan across our inpatient services, focused on safety and quality of care."