Safety fears close Argyll’s only mental health ward
THE ONLY intensive mental health ward in Argyll has been temporarily closed to new admissions following concerns over staffing and safety.
The news, revealed in a press release by NHS Highland on Friday July 22, comes on the back of shock news in The Oban Times last week of further cuts to beds and staffing at Lorn and Islands Hospital, Oban.
A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: ‘Following a recent review of inpatient mental health services within Argyll and Bute Hospital in Lochgilphead, the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit (IPCU) has been temporarily closed to new admissions.
‘Succoth ward [where longerterm patients are based], however, will not be affected and will remain open to new admissions.’
The IPCU is used to support people with acute mental health distress. Patients are generally admitted to IPCU under the Mental Health Care and Treatment Act (2003) and are referred through emergency care practitioners, police officers and social workers.
Dr Michael Hall, medical director for Argyll and Bute HSCP, said: ‘ We recently carried out a review of inpatient mental health services within Argyll and Bute Hospital and a number of challenges were identified, including the provision of a safe care environment and the availability of trained nursing staff.
‘The Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit within the hospital has therefore been temporarily closed to new admissions but it can still be used on an interim basis as a place of safety for up to 72 hours to allow patients to be clinically assessed.
‘If patients require a more prolonged period of intensive care treatment, they will be transferred to an appropriate facility outwith Argyll and Bute.
‘In reaching this decision, patient safety and well-being have been our priority.
‘It is also our intention to continue with plans to relocate inpatient mental health services from Argyll and Bute Hospital to the lower ground floor of Mid Argyll Community Hospital and Integrated Care Centre.
‘This requires some alteration works to ensure the area meets the necessary requirements and it is anticipated this work will be completed by December 2016.
‘This planned relocation is an interim measure pending further engagement prior to a final decision about where the service will be provided in the longer term.’