A lifeline dementia ward in Aberdeenshire has been temporarily closed due to “staffing shortages”.
It comes shortly after recent records showed that some of the ward’s dementia patients may have been given anti-psychotic drugs unnecessarily.
Glen O’ Dee hospital’s Scolty Ward caters to the psychiatric needs of elderly patients in the Banchory area, but was recently temporarily shut and patients moved to different hospitals.
It was confirmed on Monday that the transfer of patients within the hospital’s Morven Ward or another hospital within NHS Grampian had to be expedited on October 14, due to a “sudden increase in staff absences”.
The news comes just weeks after a watchdog raised concerns about Glen O’ Dee’s treatment of its patients, when it emerged that some people with dementia may have been given anti-psychotic drugs unnecessarily.
The Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS) launched an investigation into the hospital following further reports that a dementia patient had earlier been transported to a care home in scrubs.
Management told staff of the closure in a meeting on October 10, however some staff missed out due to the “shift working pattern of the nursing team”, according to the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP).
It later emerged the patient had no clean clothes, and the commission believes there was a “failure to protect the patient’s dignity”.
Janine Howie, AHSCP interim partnership manager said the move will “enable us to implement our robust action plan” in order to make improvements as recommended in the Mental Welfare Commission Report.
She said: “All the patients that were in Scolty Ward have been provided with a suitable placement to meet their care and support, either in Morven Ward or in another ward within NHS Grampian.”
The hospital’s operational mental health lead nurse will be on hand to provide staff with support and guidance, alongside a professional mental health lead nurse.
An older adult mental health service will also be provided in the Morven Ward, and patients will remain under the care of the older adult psychiatry consultants.
Patients with more complex needs will be supported within other Dementia Assessment Units in the Grampian region, Ms Howie said.
She added: “This is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but we need assurance that the service is safely staffed while we support the Scolty Ward Team to make sustained improvements in service delivery.”
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