Forston Clinic's failed mental health ward reopens

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Media captionMore than £1m has been spent on refurbishing the Forston Clinic ward

A mental health ward in Dorset shut by health officials after a damning report is to reopen amid concerns two other similar units are closing.

Forston Clinic's Minterne Ward in Charlton Down was closed in December after inspectors found patients did not receive appropriate and safe care.

It reopens as the Waterston Assessment Unit on Tuesday after a £1.1m revamp.

Meanwhile, 16 beds from units in Sherborne and Bridport will close in favour of a 24-hour home care service.

Campaigners believe the home care provision should run in addition to, not instead of, the seven-bed Stewart Lodge facility in Sherborne and Bridport's Hughes Unit which has nine beds.

Staffing worries

Simon Williams, of Hughes Unit Group Supporters (HUGS), said he was also concerned the 24-hour "crisis team" would not be sufficiently staffed, particularly overnight.

James Barton, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust's director of mental health services, said he was confident the home care service had sufficient staff but said it would be monitored and numbers increased if necessary.

He said most patients responded better to treatment at home "in a familiar surrounding with their loved ones around them".

Mr Barton said if a patient did need a bed, the trust would ensure one would be found.

The trust closed the 13-bed Minterne Ward at Forston Clinic after a four-day Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection found it was failing to meet 10 vital quality and safety standards.

Inspectors found patients had been left with nothing to do - with bookcases left empty in lounge areas, and no games, newspapers or books provided.

Image caption The refurbishment includes new furniture, books and a pool room

Other concerns highlighted in the report included the use of a seclusion facility which had previously been ruled unfit for purpose by the trust, missing curtains from some bedrooms and sparse lounge furnishings.

The trust said the revamp had seen a 39% increase in staff at the ward - from 23 full-time posts to more than 32 - including the appointment of a new ward manager, matron and full-time consultant.

All staff have also undergone a training programme to raise awareness of the ward's past failings, the trust added.

"We wanted staff to fully understand the standards and to exceed them everyday," said Mr Barton.

The refurbishment of the ward also includes new furniture, books, a pool room, and an increase in occupational therapy activities for patients, such as cookery and music.

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