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Date added: 24 July 2008

Mental Health in Swindon 

Services heavily criticised in key national report
Victoria Hospital Swindon
Breaking down:
the former Victoria
hospital in Old Town
This picture of the former Victoria Hospital pretty much sums up the state of Mental Health provision in Swindon: neglected, largely forgotten and in dire need need of proper investment.

A report this week by the Healthcare Commission gave a damning verdict on the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust [AWP], who are responsible for mental health care in Swindon, rating two of the four key services as "weak" and "failing to meet the minimum requirement".

In a scores table summarising the review of Acute inpatient mental health service across the UK, AWP came second to last.

Sally Thompson, AWP's Head of Nursing, responded by saying:
"We take our responsibility to service users extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring safe, high quality services across all 16 adult wards with the Trust.
"We are confident that we have, and will be able to address any areas of concern to ensure that we continue to provide the right care, at the right place at the right time.
"We know we have a way to go but thanks to the dedication of our staff we are absolutely committed to delivering the standards of care that people rightly expect."
The Trust also acted swiftly in appointing a new director and in-patient services manager, to specifically deal with the issues highlighted.
Reduced services

Until late 2007, the Victoria Hospital was the one of two key establishments treating those with mental health problems in Swindon, but now only the overstretched Sandalwood Court in Stratton-St-Margaret, which provides residential care for the most serious cases, remains.

A place already criticised in recent years for the inadequate treatment of patients there, including a high-profile inquest in to the suicide of one man under the centre's care, and another patient who died a week after a mix-up over medication.

Have Your Say on this SwindonWeb article
Tell us your 
opinion below
The Sandalwood unit has been described as "a place totally lacking in care and compassion" by one former inpatient, who while suffering from depression after a failed IVF treatment was made to share a room with a recovering herion addict who self-harmed.
In 2006, the unit was forced to close for a short time due to staff shortages.
have your say
We'd like to hear what YOU have to say about this article
All posts will be moderated.
"I used to work at Sandalwood, and the place is a hell hole!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But the Vic was worse. I'm gald it's closed down. It stank and was the most depressing place I've ever worked. I could tell you some horror stories of what went on there that would make One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest seem like a carry on movie."
65john - 25/07/2008 17:57:00
"I can tell you, nothing will change. Mental health has always been the poor relation of the NHs and will always be. Government targets don't help only hinder because treating mental health is not an exact science - you can't just give someone a pill or operate and they're better - and off some sort of list. For that reason the NHS big bods in charge only concentrate - and invest - in services that has targets they can acheive and say 'haven't we done well!!!'. In trusth I think some of the stories that are reported from Sandalwood Court are just the tip of the iceberg. the place just sounds like 'out of sight, out of mind to me'."
jt_the_king - 24/07/2008 17:11:00
"As someone who has a close relative currently being cared for in Swindon, this report finally confirms everything I have been saying over the last year. The level of care is just not good enough, and it's putting lives at risk. Mental health is forgotten and it's time people changed their attitude to people who are generally suffering from depression, anxiety and psychiatric problems."
Rach77 - 24/07/2008 15:23:00
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Swindon MIND - website
Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership - website
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