Psychiatric care report shunned by ministers

VIRGINIA BOTTOMLEY yesterday distanced herself from a costly and controversial report on the future of mental health nursing, which suggests that psychiatric units in district general hospitals should be closed down.

Single-sex accommodation should be introduced 'as a priority', and all women should have the right to chose a female mental health nurse. Those recommendations come when mental health is one of the few branches of nursing with a significant proportion of male nurses.

Health ministers avoided the report's launch yesterday, despite Mrs Bottomley having commissioned the study in 1992. In a foreword, she describes its recommendations only as 'an excellent pointer' to ways of ensuring a wellmotivated workforce.

Yvonne Moores, the Chief Nursing Officer, yesterday apologised for ministers' absence, describing the report as a 'blueprint' for the future. At the same time, however, Duncan Nichol, the NHS chief executive, was circulating managers warning that some recommendations 'could only be implemented as resources become available'.

The review team calls for an 'urgent review' of the suitability of mental health units within district general hospitals. Given the rise in drugrelated problems and aggressive and challenging behaviour nurses were finding it difficult to cope and ensure that vunerable residents felt safe. Professor Tony Butterworth, chairman of the review team, suggested hospital units could be replaced by day centres and sheltered accommodation.

Derby City General Hospital yesterday claimed a 'breakthrough' over performance-

related pay for its 1,000 nurses and midwives. The scheme, claimed to be easily the biggest such deal yet, abolishes the national nurse grading structure.

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