Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Parents 'kept in the dark' over daughter in adult psychiatric unit

Gillian said she feared for her daughter's safety
Image caption Gillian said she feared for her daughter's safety

The parents of a 17-year-old girl who was placed in a secure adult psychiatric unit have said they were "kept in the dark" over the risks.

The mother of the teenage girl previously told the BBC her daughter felt sexually unsafe in a mixed unit with eight much older men and a woman.

Two months after her daughter left the Edinburgh unit she has been given a nursing report from the time.

It expresses concern about her girl's relationship with one of the patients.

The report, written after she had been in the unit for four days, said the pair were "overly tactile with one another" and holding hands.

Both parents said they were shocked and sickened that they had not been made aware of the nurse's concerns at the time.

Image caption The IPCU is meant to be for the most serious adult patients

IPCUs are designed to look after patients who cannot be managed on open wards because of the level of risk they pose to themselves or others.

The teenage girl, who cannot be named, spent 18 days in an adult IPCU in Edinburgh in August, despite being just 17.

Her mother Gillian, not her real name, said at the time the unit was totally unsuitable for a vulnerable young girl and men looked at her daughter in sexually inappropriate ways and followed her around the unit.

Gillian said she was "disappointed and disgusted" she was not told the whole truth about the risks she was exposed to.

The girl's father, Gillian's ex-husband, said the documents shedding light on their daughter's care were handed over after repeated requests.

"Their communication is abysmal," he said.

"You're kept in the dark. No-one higher up seems really interested in solving problems that were obvious to anyone who goes in that place."

The secure IPCU in Edinburgh is reserved for the most seriously ill adults. There is no equivalent for under 18s anywhere in Scotland.

The girl's father, Dave, not his real name, said the conditions at the IPCU were worse than a prison because there was no private space and his vulnerable young daughter was forced to mix with older men.

Image caption The girl's father Dave said he was kept in the dark about what was going on

He said the only "safeguarding" guidance to protect his daughter was the presence of a CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) nurse, who would be on "constant observation" in the unit.

"She did have a nurse with her but that did not stop these men," her father said.

Dave said the concerns highlighted in the report were not flagged up to him as a problem.

"I rely on the staff to give me what is going on and if they are not doing that then I don't know what is going on," he said.

Recognising the gap in provision, the Scottish government say a new, secure inpatient facility for children and young people will open in 2021.

Dave said it was unacceptable that there were no secure psychiatric units for adolescents in Scotland and the one that is being built will take another two years.

NHS Lothian would not discuss the individual case but said that the severity of a patient's illness may occasionally require a short period of intensive care in a controlled environment.

A statement said: "In these circumstances, patients receive a minimum of 1:1 care and round the clock supervision to ensure their safety and are allocated single bedroom accommodation."

They also said that there are no intensive psychiatric care units (IPCU) dedicated to young people under the age of 18 in Scotland, therefore to receive this level of mental health care and treatment adult units had to be used.

More on this story