Barrow Families Welcome ‘Significant Improvements’ at Health Unit

Families of patients who suffered due to dangerously low staffing levels at a Barrow dementia unit welcomed reports of “significant improvements” yesterday.

The Care Quality Commission announced the Ramsey Unit, based in the Dane Garth Unit in the grounds of Furness General Hospital, Barrow, is now meeting all essential standards after an unannounced inspection on December 11.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, says it has created eight new positions – increasing staffing levels by 25 per cent.

The unit was issued with warning notices by the CQC in October after an unannounced visit found care, patient welfare and staffing levels “well below” expected standards.

An open board meeting following the crisis saw CPFT bosses hear uncomfortable testimony from families of elderly patients who suffered on the unit.

Julie Price, from Bowfell Crescent, Barrow, saw her mum Dorothy Bell, 81, decline in a “real short space of time” after she was admitted to the unit.

She said: “The staff always looked after her well but there were never enough people to do the job. Mum left about a month ago but I noticed the staff seemed a lot happier and they are not being stretched to the limit.” Mrs Price said the transparency shown by the trust following the incident was a positive sign. “Families have got to be listened to,” she said.

Raymond Parkinson, from Dalton, whose wife Linda was hospitalised with dehydration after being admitted to the Ramsey Unit, said he welcomed the report.

“She was always looked after well by the nurses but there were not enough people to give her fluid. I am happy that things have improved,” he said.

An extract from the report said: “Throughout our observations we noted warm and reassuring care being offered to patients. It was clear staff were more adept and skilled in supporting and caring for people with dementia.”

The report also noted increased occupational therapy support and increased input from a senior consultant psychiatrist.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “While this report is very positive, it is vital that the  trust continues to ensure that the unit remains fully staffed and that work towards creating a centre of excellence in dementia care in Furness is progressed rapidly.”

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Claire Molloy said: “I want to thank the staff and the families of the patients in the unit for their support and commitment during this difficult time. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that staffing levels are maintained.”