Middlesbrough mental health hospital patient ‘felt like caged animal’

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Faith Wilthew spent four years in the hospital

A teenager has said she felt like a “caged animal” during a four-year spell at a mental health hospital which is under investigation.

Faith Wilthew, 18, said she self-harmed and attempted suicide at West Lane Hospital in Middlesbrough.

She said she was “told it was my own choice if I wanted to self-harm”.

Hospital bosses said they expected staff to treat patients with respect, while the care and safety of “service users” was “first priority”.

Twenty staff members have been suspended at the hospital amid claims they used “non-approved” techniques to move patients. The investigation is being overseen by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Concerns were raised in November about care at West Lane, amid allegations staff used techniques for moving patients which were “not taught and not in line with trust policy”.

Miss Wilthew claimed she was not offered any support by staff when she displayed signs of self-harming.

She said: “Most of the time I felt like I was in prison. I went in there at 14 with not a scar on my body and I came out at 18 full of scars.

“I was just told it was my own choice if I wanted to self-harm.

“Sometimes they would lift me off my bed by my hands and feet and just drop me onto the floor and restrain me. Things need to change.”

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Family Handout

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Faith Wilthew’s mother said her daughter banged her head against a wall for 72 hours

Miss Wilthew’s mother Kelly said the years that followed her admission saw her daughter sectioned before she won a fight to get her home.

Mrs Wilthew said: “At one point she started banging her head against the wall.

“She did it for about 72 hours and they told her that it was her choice if she wanted to go on doing that.

“When I went in to see her there was still blood on the wall.”

The trust has declined to speak about any specific allegations involving individual cases.

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Kelly Wilthew has called for changes at the hospital

However, Elizabeth Moody, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust’s director of nursing, said: “The care and safety of all our service users is our first priority and we expect our staff to show respect for their dignity and well-being.

“We take any allegations that could suggest otherwise extremely seriously.

“Our staffing levels are reviewed on a twice-daily basis by senior clinical leaders to ensure the quality of care delivered to the young people at all times.”