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NHS mental health boss ‘shocked’ ward managers not on seven days a week

Mental health lead ‘shocked’ to hear ward managers are ‘Monday to Friday people’

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Tuesday 15 November 2022 22:37 GMT
NHS staff are quitting to work at Tesco for better pay, says union chief

The NHSmental health director has warned trusts they should have ward managers working seven days a week amid national safety concerns.

Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England, said she was “shocked” to hear in some NHS trusts ward managers were not working and overseeing the quality and safety of wards seven days a week, warning some were “Monday to Friday” people.

Her comments came in response to questions from The Independent about a potential national review of safety within inpatient mental health services which ministers are considering, following several high-profile scandals in recent months.

An NHS consultant claimed the NHS ran like the “Mary Celeste” during the weekends and that moving hospital services to operate seven days would help tackle the growing backlog.

Speaking at NHS Providers’ annual conference she said mental health providers should make sure they’re listening to healthcare assistants who spend “90 per cent of their time in patient-facing situations”

And added “making sure your [trust] ward managers do work overnight and over the weekend, I’ve been a bit shocked to hear that we’ve moved with Agenda for Change quite often ward managers are Monday to Friday people...and no no no no no.

“I think we do need our most senior folk across the seven-day period. Unannounced visits at two in the morning. Why not?”

She said the people that most often signal abuse, according to research, are healthcare assistants, patients and students.

NHS England has allocated £36 million to improve the safety and quality of hospital wards over three years, following safety concerns, Ms Murdoch said.

Last month The Independent published an investigation revealing systemic abuse within a private mental health provider, The Huntercombe Group.

Labour shadow mental health secretary Rosen Allen Khan has since called for a “rapid review” of mental health hospitals, while other MPs have called for a public inquiry.

The Department for Health and Social Care’s minister for mental health Maria Caulfield said she had not ruled out a public inquiry but warned they take too long to complete.

Ms Murdoch sent a letter to all NHS trusts and providers in October, following an expose by Panorama into the Edenfield centre, asking all providers to review the safety measures on their services.

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