A former employee at a psychiatric hospital, who returned to receive treatment for severe depression, has likened the conditions there to healthcare in the early 20th Century.
Mhairi Leslie worked as a specialist mental health physiotherapist at Royal Cornhill in Aberdeen for 18 months before quitting in April.
The 52-year-old subsequently admitted herself to the hospital to recuperate after her chronic depressive disorder worsened.
When she got there, however, she was appalled at the quality of treatment being offered to some patients and with the conditions she saw in ageing wards, likening Cornhill to a hospital from the early 20th century.
It comes as a report was published by the Mental Welfare Commission following an unannounced inspection in October.
The report was critical of the environment in some of the hospital wards and also found that “many patients” had been admitted to the wrong ward.
On one occasion, Ms Leslie claimed a nurse nearly gave her the wrong medication until she questioned what the drugs were. She says the nurse admitted she did not know.
Ms Leslie claims this was against policy and the nurse should have been accompanied by a colleague.
She also claims she went several days without receiving medication and when her mother challenged hospital staff she was told that it was the responsibility of patients to ensure they collected their drugs.
Ms Leslie also said she was forced to use her physio expertise to help patients on the elderly patients’ ward, where she was forced to stay due to a lack of staff.
She said: “Most of the time I was just lying on top of my bed feeling depressed.
“You can’t go around making mistakes with medication like that, somebody should be disciplined for that.
“I want the population of Aberdeen to know that’s the state of healthcare in here in 2018.
“People need to know the kind of treatment their relatives will be getting if they are admitted.
“It was like healthcare from 100 years ago.
“I was told when I admitted myself that I would be going into a newer ward and yet I ended up in the elderly patients’ ward.
“I had to help the people in there like I was still working as a physio as they were in danger of falling over.”
The claims come just weeks after an inquiry revealed that David Reid had killed his best friend last October by stabbing him 120 times a day just two days after he was discharged from the hospital, where doctors decided he was not ill enough to warrant compulsory treatment.
Cornhill has been faced with a chronic shortage of staff over the past year and earlier this year two dementia units were temporarily closed. The Brodie Ward was also shut.
The board has since drafted in scores of graduate nurses in an effort to ease the staffing crisis.
A North East MSP has called for an urgent investigation into Ms Leslie’s claims.
Tom Mason said: “These allegations are very worrying and should be investigated as a matter of urgency.
“The staff shortages at Royal Cornhill Hospital have been well-documented and every effort must be made to minimise the impact on patient care.
“This raises serious questions about recent decisions to close some wards at the hospital and the standard of care that is being provided.”
NHS Grampian said it could not comment on the specifics of Ms Leslie’s case but urged her to get in touch with the health board’s feedback service so the claims could be fully investigated.
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A spokeswoman said: “Our ‘Instructions for NHS Grampian Staff on the Prescription and Administration of Medicines using the NHS Grampian Prescription and Administration Record’ is that one registered nurse can administer medicine, although in normal practice we try to have two.
“However, other clinical priorities may occasionally take precedence.
“Some specific medicines, such as controlled drugs, also require a witness, usually a second registered nurse or nursing student. Any errors are investigated thoroughly.
“In terms of the general position at Cornhill, activity does fluctuate – that is the nature of the service – but we are confident that we have the capacity and skills to deal with the patients who require care in the hospital.
“We continue to be very grateful to our staff for all their hard work throughout the year.”
Findings of unannounced inspection find fault with Cornhill
The MWC paid an unannounced visit to the hospital following the well-documented staffing issues earlier this year.
Inspectors reviewed the care and treatment of 14 patients and spoke to nursing staff, management and other clinical staff.
On their visit they were told by patients that ward staff were “approachable”, “supportive” and “compassionate”.
However access to medical professionals proved to be “more difficult”.
MWC also found that there were variations across all three wards in terms of the quality of patient records and care plans.
It also emerged during their visit that staff were so busy they found it difficult to respond to patients.
One told the inspectors that “staff did not have enough time for the patients who needed more input and this meant that they also did not have enough time for patients who were quieter”.
The report recommends that managers should “ensure that care plans focus on individual needs”.
Inspectors also found that were “several issues” with patients who were subject to detention at the hospital – with some prescribed medication without “due authorisation”.
This formed the basis of two further recommendations, which advise that the proper consent forms are filled in and “legally authorised”.
And patients who are placed under detention or have restrictions placed on them should be made “specified persons” under the Mental Health Act.
The inspectors praised the newly-refurbished Huntly ward, however they were critical of the “very poor” state of the Crathes and Drum units and said the pending upgrade for these “cannot come fast enough”.
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We are pleased that patients found the ward staff supportive, compassionate and approachable.
“We also welcome the commission’s praise of the work we have done to upgrade Huntly ward.
“This work will be repeated across our adult inpatient wards and will greatly improve the environment for patients, their families and our staff.
“However, this report also highlights some of the challenges we face at Royal Cornhill Hospital at present, in particular with regards to staffing.
“We are working hard to improve the situation and maintain a high standard of care.
“We accept all the recommendations made and we will working on implementing them in the coming weeks and months.”