A London mental health unit has been criticised for under-staffing and lack of security after a nurse was strangled by a patient while on duty.
Nurses have alleged that chronic under-staffing and an inadequate alarm system at the City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health leaves them vulnerable to attack.
The claims follow an attack on a nurse earlier this month. The victim survived, but was left with neck injuries and perforated eardrums.
Nursing assistant Yonatan Mosquera told ITV’s London Tonight programme: “We have overcrowding and we have under-staffing. That affects everything else. It affects the quality of service we can provide, it affects our morale, and it is also dangerous.”
The programme reported that teams of just two staff were often left in charge of up to 20 patients, with the wards at times becoming so full that patients have to sleep on sofas. It also said inadequate alarm systems were failing to protect nurses.
UNISON branch chair John Peers said: “We wrote to the trust on three previous occasions saying the cuts to night staffing levels were unacceptable. The wards are very busy and very acute, the dependency levels of the people here are very high.”
UNISON representative Sandra Payne said a previous attack led to pregnant nurse suffering a miscarriage.
A statement from East London NHS Foundation Trust said the incident was being investigated internally.
The statement said: “There will be a full independent enquiry into the incident. In the meantime, a number of actions have been implemented immediately to support staff in the unit and to address concerns.
“Immediately, after the incident, chief executive Dr Robert Dolan met with staff to discuss their concerns. This incident has been taken very seriously and safety measures are being reviewed.”
Do staffing cuts put nurses at risk?