North Wales health board undertakes work to prevent suicides on mental health wards
More than £8 million has been spent on preventing suicide and improving surroundings at mental health wards in North Wales.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) has been using external contractors to carry out work to prevent the use of ligatures by hospital patients.
It includes the installation of doors fitted with vision panels with dual controls for patient and staff, as well as other alterations to doors and bathrooms.
A total of £4.2m was spent in 2016/17 and close to £4m in 2017/18 in the wake of a number of serious incidents at hospitals in Wales.
The board said it was also actively assessing risks on its wards following the death of a patient in England who used a ligature last month.
The money for the work has been provided by the Welsh Government.
In a report Keeley Twigg, the organisation’s head of planning, said: “In 2014-15 there were a number of serious and untoward incidents across Wales in relation to ligatures.
“An urgent review and risk assessment of every mental health and learning disability inpatient ward and environment within BCUHB was undertaken to ensure any risk to patients could be removed or mitigated.
“The programme involved the assessment of ligature risks within the inpatient wards and units across the division and the removal or upgrade of any items assessed to be of a risk.
“This work then went further by way of subsequent review to also consider the potential impact of extending this programme to deliver a set of proposed environmental improvement works.
“While the completion of the anti-ligature programme is positive it must be acknowledged that the assessment of ongoing risk is a dynamic process.”
Hospital settings which have undergone improvements include the Heddfan Unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, the Ablett Unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and the Hergest Unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, as well as several others.
Following an alert issued by NHS Wales in relation to the death in England, a formal review of the board’s risk assessment processes and will need to be completed by March 2019.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.
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