NHS Tayside to act after patients ‘pinned to floor in agony’

Adele Douglas said she struggled to breathe after being restrained on the floor for more than 45 minutes after staff at Carseview found her trying to take her own life, Picture: BBC Scotland
Adele Douglas said she struggled to breathe after being restrained on the floor for more than 45 minutes after staff at Carseview found her trying to take her own life, Picture: BBC Scotland
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A health board has vowed to act on claims patients at a Dundee mental health unit were “pinned to the floor in agony” and bullied on wards where illegal drugs were rife.

NHS Tayside say they will investigate a damning BBC Scotland report of daily abuse at the Carseview Centre.

Patients at the unit told how staff used face-down restraint violently and repeatedly over the past five years.

They have also alleged they were often mocked and shouted at by workers.

One former patient described being slapped after an attempt to take her own life, while others claimed illegal drugs such as cannabis were “easy to get”.

A fatal accident inquiry report published last week into the death of Dale Thomson, 28, in 2015 said there were “serious systemic failures in the care” he received at Carseview. The facility is the largest mental health unit in Tayside, with 80 beds across five wards.

Former youth worker Adele Douglas, from Forfar, was admitted to Carseview last year after suffering from depression and anorexia.

Ms Douglas, who is asthmatic, alleged she struggled to breathe after being restrained on the floor for more than 45 minutes after staff found her trying to take her own life.

She said one worker reacted badly after she screamed in pain. Ms Douglas said: “At this point I was going absolutely mad, then he’d lifted his hand and slapped me really hard on my thigh.

“When he slapped me, he said, ‘That’s enough of that’. The guy was really rough with me. It was like he was taking his frustration out on me.”

Another former patient, David Fong, who spent a month in the unit in 2013, said: “The restraints in Carseview definitely did feel like punishments. I think it was also the nurses wanted to maintain their authority above the patients.”

Guidelines say face-down restraint, which can restrict a patient’s breathing, should last no longer than ten minutes and should only be used as a last resort.

There have been calls for it to be banned because of the risk it can harm patients. The claims will be broadcast in Breaking Point, set to air on BBC One tonight.

John Brown, chairman of NHS Tayside, said: “We take any concerns raised with us very seriously and we want to be able to investigate people’s experiences in detail and take any appropriate action.”

He added: “I would encourage patients to come forward and share their stories with us.

“We will listen and we will act.”