An investigation into the care and treatment provided on a scandal-hit Bodelwyddan mental health ward has concluded there is “no evidence” to support prior allegations that patients suffered from deliberate abuse or wilful neglect.

Emotions were running high this morning as families of patients who were on Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Tawel Fan’s mental health ward - which closed in 2013 - gathered outside Clwyd Chambers, Rhyl, to await the findings of a Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) report on the care provided on Tawel Fan in the Ablett Unit.

The Investigation panel concluded that the care and treatment provided on the Tawel Fan ward was of “good overall general standard” although key area were identified where clinical practice and process required development and modernisation.

It was stated that despite problems with the system, there was no “evidence” to suggest that Tawel Fan was an environment where “abusive practice” took place.

A report said: “Nevertheless it was also identified that on occasions, the experience of some patients and their families was compromised due to a combinations of systemic failures exacerbated by significant financial restrictions, poor service design and ineffective governance arrangements.

"However, it should be understood that these issues were not as a result of any failings in relations to Tawel Fan ward per se, but were encountered by patients and their families across a wide range of services on the care pathway that they travelled.

“Tawel Fan was the common denominator in that of the 108 patients in the investigation cohort 105 were admitted onto the ward fro a period of time.

"However, it is evident that many of the concerns and complaints raised by families did not relate to the ward and that a significant number of families had nothing but praise for the care and treatment their loved once received on Tawel Fan and for the kid and compassionate care provided by members of the treating team.

“Despite problems with the system, there is no evidence to suggest that Tawel Fan ward was an environment where abusive practice took place either as a result of uncaring staff who acted wilfully in an inappropriate manner, or due to a system that failed to protect.

“There is no evidence to support findings of abuse from a perspective of cruel or inhumane treatment and neither is there any evidence to support the notion of institutional abuse or neglect.”

A total of 15 recommendations make up the report.

A media briefing is taking place this morning where Dr Androulla Johnstone, HASCAS chief executive, Gary Doherty, chief executive of BCUHB and Dr Evan Moore, BCUHB executive medical director, will speak.

The Tawel Fan ward was closed following “shocking revelations” about treatment of psychiatric patients.

Independent expert Donna Ockenden, who investigated complaints from relatives, upheld their claims that patients were kept “like animals at the zoo”.

Reacting to the announcement, Clwyd West AM Darren Miller described the report as a 'whitewash'.

He said: "Many will describe today’s report into Tawel Fan as a whitewash and will question the independence of the process which has led to its publication. 

"Any organisation with links to the Welsh Government or the Labour Party involved in sensitive work of this kind should have a duty to disclose that to stakeholders upfront.

"The failure to do so in this case has given rise to a serious breach of trust and undermined the confidence of the Tawel Fan families that this was a genuine quest for truth. 

"We are now almost four and a half years on from the closure of the ward and yet instead of answers the Tawel Fan families have even more questions about the care of their loved ones. 

"The Tawel Fan families and the people of North Wales deserve better and that’s why we need a cross-party Assembly inquiry to ensure that we get to the bottom of what happened once and for all.”

He added: "Some will suggest that the Welsh Government is more interested in protecting the reputation of its Ministers and softening the impact of investigations than actually finding the truth about what happened at Tawel Fan.”

Representatives of the North Wales Community Health Council (NWCHC), the independent health watchdog for North Wales, attended the release of the HASCAS into issues arising from the failings in care at the Tawel Fan Ward.  

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, Chief Officer of the NWCHC said it would take time to consider the report and its recommendations before commenting and issuing a full statement next week.

Mark Thornton, NWCHC Chair said: "We would like to give our recognition and appreciation to the Tawel Fan Families Group for their involvement and perseverance over the past 5 years and naturally our sympathies go out to all those who have been affected by this abuse of patients’ rights.

“We will be making arrangements for the NWCHC to meet with the Families in the near future and to find out what help they need with the next steps.”