Mental health inquiry 'must cover Tawel Fan dementia ward'

Tawel Fan
Image caption Tawel Fan opened in 1995 and had 17 beds before it closed in 2013

An assembly inquiry into mental health services in north Wales needs to cover questions about a controversial dementia ward, a Conservative AM has said.

The Tawel Fan ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire shut in 2013 amid allegations patients were mistreated, although a recent report said there was no institutional abuse.

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said this is a chance to give answers to families of patients treated at Tawal Fan.

The inquiry will start in spring 2019.

The families have been calling for a government inquiry amid accusations of a cover-up.

An investigation by healthcare specialist Donna Ockenden in 2015 heard from one family, who described conditions as like visiting a "zoo" with "animals that have been captured for a long time" left to walk around.

But another official report by the Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) consultancy in May this year found no evidence of institutional abuse.

The difference in the conclusions led families of some people treated on the ward to call for the assembly to step in and investigate further.

Image caption Tawel Fan is part of the Ablett unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan

This new inquiry will look at the management of mental health services at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and whether previous issues have been addressed.

Earlier a group of AMs from north Wales asked the committee to inquire into problems at the Tawel Fan ward.

The committee said the short inquiry would "examine the management of mental health services within the health board" with representatives from BCUHB and the Welsh Government.

"Two of those recommendations refer to how complaints are dealt with and improving mental health services within BCUHB," added the committee.

"In considering progress against these two recommendations specifically, we envisage these evidence sessions may touch upon lessons learnt from the well-publicised failings in BCUHB's mental health services."

The committee said it would "ensure previous issues have been addressed and systems are in place to ensure governance failures do not occur again".

"Many people in North Wales were concerned about the alarming differences in the conclusions drawn by those who investigated the Tawel Fan ward," said Mr Millar, who led calls for the inquiry.

"This inquiry will provide an opportunity to consider those conclusions, take evidence from stakeholders, and to determine whether the action which is being taken in north Wales is sufficient to address the serious problems which have been exposed in mental health services in the region.

"The Tawel Fan families deserve answers to the many questions which they still have regarding the care of their loved ones and I for one hope that this inquiry will be able to assist in answering them."

A spokesperson for BCUHB said its chairman and chief executive would be attending.