The Daily Telegraph
March 18th 2000

Nurses tied elderly patients to harness

By Nigel Bunyan

ELDERLY mentally ill patients were beaten by nurses, tied to a makeshift harness and fed while on the lavatory, a report disclosed yesterday.

The abuse on Ward 21 of the Garlands Hospital, Carlisle, Cumbria, came to light when a group of student nurses complained to senior managers in 1996. But the report said no action was taken. Mary Styth, chairman of the North Lakeland Healthcare NHS Trust, who ordered the report, has been sacked.

A member of the hospital staff was also dismissed, while three others were given official warnings. The ward manager resigned in advance of a disciplinary hearing. Geoff Bland, acting chief executive of the trust, apologised "unreservedly". He said: "I must particularly acknowledge the courage of those who drew this indefensible situation to the trust's attention.

"The fact that appropriate action was not taken means we not only failed the vulnerable patients in our care but also those who reported the abuse." Judy Wilson, acting director of mental health services, said: "Every authority has a few bad nurses, and unfortunately in this instance they congregated in one place."

Garlands Hospital has since been replaced by the Carlton Clinic, which opened in June. Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, said: "Practices of this nature cannot be allowed to go on. I have been reassured that the trust's management will take forward all of the recommendations made by the Review Panel as quickly as possible."