Wales politics

Tawel Fan scandal: Prosecutions call over NHS neglect

Sarah Rochira
Image caption Sarah Rochira says those who mistreat older people should be brought to account

The older people's commissioner has renewed calls to make it easier to prosecute those who neglect patients in the wake of a critical report about a Denbighshire mental health unit.

It condemned "institutional abuse" at Glan Clwyd Hospital's Tawel Fan ward.

Relatives said patients were treated like "animals" in a zoo before the ward was shut down in December 2013.

Commissioner Sarah Rochira said the revelations had been "horrific" and the treatment "inhumane" and "degrading".

'Truly appalling'

Several members of staff on the ward are facing disciplinary procedures but North Wales Police decided not to pursue criminal charges after investigating allegations of mistreatment.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme, Ms Rochira said criminal law should be strengthened so those who treat older people in a "truly appalling way" can be held to account.

She said Tawel Fan was "one of many many examples where care has been truly unacceptable yet isn't considered criminal".

Image caption Senior managers were criticised for failing to respond to earlier warnings of problems on the ward

The commissioner called on health boards to make public declarations about the quality of the care provided by their local health services.

"I would suggest right now that boards need to be putting out reassuring statements to the public that they do know how good their care is and people don't need to be worried in relation to their own care," Ms Rochira said.

'Rock bottom'

Vale of Clwyd Labour AM Ann Jones said the chief executive of Betsi Cadwaladr health board - Prof Trevor Purt - should be sacked.

She said public confidence in the board had hit "rock bottom", but she was confident Welsh government ministers "understand that a change of leadership at the board may be the way forward".

Prof Purt has already apologised on behalf of the board, saying he was "extremely sorry that we let our vulnerable patients and their families down so badly".

A meeting on Monday involving the Welsh government, Health Inspectorate Wales and the auditor general for Wales will consider if any action against the board is needed.

Sunday Politics Wales is on BBC One Wales at 11:00 BST on 7 June.

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