Psychiatric patients ‘crammed together’ despite pandemic

Labour MSP David Stewart has clashed with health chiefs over claims made by a campaign group on Twitter.

Psychiatric patients ‘crammed together’ despite pandemic NHS

An MSP has clashed with health chiefs over claims that patients at a psychiatric hospital in the Highlands are being crammed into a tighter space despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Campaign group MeTooNHSHighland claimed on Twitter patients at New Craigs in Inverness have been moved into cramped conditions.

The group also contacted Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart.

Stewart, who is Scottish Labour’s public health spokesman, has since contacted NHS Highland’s interim chief executive Paul Hawkins for a response.

The Tweet claimed the psychiatric unit had merged two wards and 20 patients were “all mingling, not two metres apart.”

The posting went on to say it also happened in the hospital’s cafe and that temperatures were not being taken daily because the unit had run out of tests.

It was also alleged that there was a lack of protective equipment.

The group asked: “Who regulates decisions to cut care that put lives at risk?”

Stewart said: “It appears, from what I’m being told, that there are mixed messages coming from management about restrictions and protecting patients and staff.

“There are changes at New Craigs and concerns about patients not having visitors and not being able to go out.

“It is also being asked if patients could log in to wifi, to allow support and to connect with people virtually over the internet.

“I realise that NHS staff and management are busy coping with coronavirus but there are valid concerns being raised.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19 staff based at New Craigs Hospital have been preparing in line with national guidance.

“A decision to reconfigure inpatient services was taken in order to operate the site safely – since, like many areas in the NHS, our staffing numbers have been affected by self-isolation requirements and access to childcare.

“All wards have implemented social distancing with patients being advised to stay in their own room and follow social distancing guidelines.

“Meal times have been staggered to allow socially distant seating arrangements. The canteen was shut on Monday, March 23 in line with national instructions that food retailers should close their doors.

“This space has been re-utilised as a larger waiting room to support social distancing for emergency appointments. Group activities have also stopped and been replaced with individual work.”

New Craigs patients with symptoms have been cared for in isolation.

The spokeswoman added: “Nursing observations including temperature checking are being undertaken in line with existing protocols.

“We have maintained adequate supplies of PPE throughout the pandemic period including equipment required in respect of medical emergencies.”

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