Dr Paul Morrison response to Evening News 'Dementia Patients' Article

Dear Sir,

I write in response to your article of 13th April (News uncovers families’ heartbreaking tales of dementia patients ‘left to rot’ in Lothian hospital wards).

Far from leaving 'patients to rot,' the services provided by our multi-disciplinary care teams are tailored to the needs of individual patients to improve their health and quality of life.

We recognise that patients with dementia are among the most vulnerable in our care and we are committed to providing them with the best standards of care possible, working to nationally approved guidelines and standards.

We have developed and are implementing a dementia action plan, supported by the Dementia Services Development Centre and the Mental Health Collaborative, funded by the Scottish Government. NHS Lothian has also appointed a nurse consultant for dementia.

On admission, all patients have a 72 hour assessment, which includes a section for carers to give relevant information about the patient. Patients’ care plans are updated on an ongoing basis, dependent on need, and are reviewed regularly.

Patients admitted to Ward One at the Royal Victoria Hospital are usually those who have the most severe and distressing symptoms of dementia. Some patients can be irritable and aggressive, either with staff or other patients. We try to minimise this aggression using our assessments to determine the best treatments and care for each individual.

Patients on Ward One have access to a wide range of services and activities, including occupational therapy and physiotherapy and activities such as the 'music in hospitals' band and dance and movement therapy. There is a safe, accessible garden next to the ward and patients are supervised by staff at all times when in the garden.

To correct a statement in your article, I would like to reassure the public that patients have and sleep in their own individual beds. Appropriate levels of trained nursing staff are on duty and provide excellent care to our patients. Staff are given time to attend courses to maintain and improve their skills, which is a further demonstration of our commitment to providing high standards of care.

However, we recognise that there is always room for improvement in the service we provide, which is why we are constantly seeking ways to further improve standards of care. We acknowledge Mr Moss’s concerns about his mother’s care and we would encourage him to make a formal complaint to us so that we can carry out a full investigation and work with him to address these concerns.

Yours faithfully

Dr Paul Morrison,
Consultant Psychiatrist, NHS Lothian
and Lead Clinician for Old Age Psychiatry, Edinburgh 

15/04/2010