Wales

Betsi Cadwaladr: Full report on psychiatric ward must be released

The Hergest unit

A 2013 report into "worrying standards of care" at a north Wales mental health unit must be released, the Information Commissioner has ordered.

The Holden Report warned the Hergest unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, was "in serious trouble".

A redacted copy of its summary was released in 2015.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board's refusal to disclose the full report after a Freedom of Information request 14 months ago has now been overturned.

A review of the 42-bed Hergest psychiatric unit was commissioned after complaints by staff.

The report's author Robin Holden said staff relationships had "broken down to a degree where patient care is undoubtedly being compromised".

In a statement at the time, Betsi Cadwaladr said action had been taken to address the report's recommendations, including a restructuring of the board's management of mental health services.

A separate inquiry into the Tawel Fan mental health ward at another north Wales hospital - Ysbyty Glan Clwyd - led to the board being put into special measures by the Welsh government.

On 8 May 2019, a request was made for "a copy of the full Robin Holden Report, redacted only to the extent needed to protect patient confidentiality and the identity of the whistleblowers".

The request was refused, leading to a review of the decision by the Information Commissioner.

In a decision notice issued on 30 June, Catherine Dickenson from the Information Commissioner's office upheld the complaint and called on Betsi Cadwaladr to "disclose a full copy of the report with only the names of individuals subject to the grievances redacted".

Image caption Tawel Fan, which was part of the Ablett unit at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan, was the subject of a separate inquiry

Speaking at the time of the report's summary being released in 2015, Member of the Senedd Darren Millar said it was "extraordinary" the findings had not been shared sooner.

Following the decision by the Information Commissioner's office, Mr Millar, Welsh Conservative MS Clwyd West, said: "It's a great shame that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has chosen to stifle the publication of this report.

"The public have a right to know whether there were earlier indicators of problems in the management and leadership of mental health services in north Wales and whether scandals such as Tawel Fan could have been avoided.

"The publication of this report may help to shed a light on these issues."

Image caption Llyr Gruffydd said it had been a "difficult and emotional battle" to get the report released

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales MS, said: "I welcome the commissioner's decision to reject the health board's attempt not to publish the report.

"There was an opportunity seven years ago to learn from this report but, unfortunately, it didn't happen.

"It has been a difficult and emotional battle, with the health board trying to stop the publication of the report at every step.

"It is imperative the full report is now published and that the health board does not appeal the decision."

Lesley Singleton, interim director of mental health and learning disabilities at Betsi Cadwaladr, said: "We are considering the Information Commissioner's Office decision notice and will respond within the required timeframe."

An ICO spokesman said the health board had "30 days from the date of issue to appeal this decision".

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