A MENTAL health ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital has been closed over concerns about the quality and safety of patient care.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has closed the Tawel Fan ward in the Ablett Unit at the Bodelwyddan hospital on a temporary basis while an investigation is carried out.
A small number of staff have been removed from clinical duties while the investigation is undertaken and the remaining staff will be redeployed.
Alternative arrangements have been made for patients affected to be cared for elsewhere.
Angela Hopkins, director of nursing and midwifery at the Health Board, said: “I would like to reassure patients and their families that we are taking this matter extremely seriously and that our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our vulnerable patients.
“Immediate action has been taken in order to safeguard the patients and staff on Tawel Fan ward.
"Senior colleagues are undertaking a thorough investigation and while this is ongoing, we have taken the decision to close the ward.
“A small number of staff have been removed from patient care duties while we investigate. Tawel Fan ward will reopen as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.”
The investigation will work with partner organisations, including local authorities and North Wales Police in line with the procedure for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults.
The Welsh Government and Health Inspectorate Wales have also been informed.
Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer for the North Wales Community Health Council, said: “This news is very regrettable and our thoughts turn to those patients who are affected, as well as their families.
"We welcome that the Health Board has been open about the fact that there are serious on-going concerns and understand that urgent work needs to be carried out to address these issues.
"The health board has clearly demonstrated to us that it is taking the necessary steps to attempt to restore the perceived lack of confidence by some in health services in North Wales.
"The CHC’s Complaints and Advocacy Service is ready to assist patients and families who may wish to take their concerns through the formal NHS Complaints Procedure. ”
Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar AM, said: “This is more clear evidence of the need for an independent Keogh-style inquiry into standards of patient care within the Welsh NHS.
“This closure will be of deep concern to patients and their families and it’s hugely important that the health board quickly gets a grip on alternative arrangements for care.
“It is crucial that this does not infringe on the availability of beds for other patients over the Christmas period.
“Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the need for sufficient flexibility and availability of inpatient beds within mental health care right across the region – and Wales as a whole.”