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Inspection finds improvements needed in Aberbeeg specialist mental health hospital in Abertillery

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has issued a report (12 October 2023) following an unannounced inspection of a specialist mental health hospital in Abertillery. The inspection of Aberbeeg Hospital took place over three consecutive days in July 2023, and focused on the Bevan and Taliesin Wards.

Aberbeeg Hospital Mental Health Services

Managed by an independent provider, Elysium Healthcare, the hospital offers both low and medium secure mental health services for men who are liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act (1983). 

During our inspection, we generally found suitable protocols were in place to manage risk, health and safety and infection control. Staffing levels were appropriate to maintain patient safety, and the statutory documentation we saw verified that patients were appropriately legally detained. However, some survey results showed a split in staff who felt there was sufficient resourcing, whilst others did not feel the staffing levels were safe. Staff were committed to providing safe and effective care and patient care plans reflected individual needs and risks. We did identify some areas for improvement, but no areas of non-compliance with the regulations were identified.

Most patients who completed a questionnaire rated the care and service provided by the hospital as ‘very good’. Staff interacted and engaged with patients appropriately, and treated patients with dignity and respect. The staff we spoke with were passionate about their roles and enthusiastic about how they supported and cared for their patients. Patients were provided with a range of therapeutic facilities and activities to support and maintain their health and wellbeing. Patients also had access to a mental health advocate who provided information and support with any issues they may have regarding their care.

The setting must ensure patient information boards are consistently completed for ongoing patient awareness and update patient information guides. The hospital’s furniture, fixtures and fittings were appropriate for the patient group, but the ligature audit for the Taliesin Ward was overdue, which posed a potential risk to patient safety. We requested immediate action be taken during the inspection visit to rectify this and the service must now ensure processes for managing ligature risk are followed. During the inspection the hospital’s multifaith rooms were left untidy, these must be continually maintained for patient use.

The hospital had good multiagency safeguarding relationships, but measures were required to improve the level of detail recorded within safeguarding reports. We found an established electronic system was in place for recording, reviewing, and monitoring incidents, but some information was not appropriately linked to patient records.

Staff compliance with mandatory violence and aggression training was high but inspectors noted that a recent incident of patient restraint had involved a member of staff who was not compliant with the training. The service must ensure only staff who are compliant with suitable levels of training undertake restrictive interventions to protect patients and staff from harm.

The hospital had robust procedures in place for the safe management of medicines and patient photos were linked to their medication records which was noted as good practice.

Established governance arrangements were in place to provide oversight of clinical and operational issues, but inspectors found that some systems and processes were not aligned across the wards. Most staff told us that they felt supported in their roles and satisfied with their organisational management, but that there was no formal supervision process in place. The service must implement a dedicated and structured supervision process which ensures that staff supervision is conducted at regular intervals. We found staffing levels were appropriate to maintain patient safety, but there were several staff vacancies being recruited to at the time of our inspection.

Chief Executive of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Alun Jones said:

“It is positive to see the dedication from staff in delivering safe and dignified care at Aberbeeg Hospital. Our inspection did highlight some areas for improvement, the service should ensure these improvements are implemented. We will continue to engage with the Elysium Healthcare Ltd on their plans for improvement.”