ISOLATION facilities are being used at a ‘temporarily closed’ Carleton Clinic ward for a patient with learning disabilities, according to an anonymous source.

The source, who is close to the situation, said that a man has been moved to a seclusion room in the Carleton Clinic’s Rowanwood Ward, despite the trust saying that it is currently closed.

The man was being cared for in Carleton Clinic, Carlisle on the Acorn Ward. However, the decision was made to place him in seclusion on Rowanwood Ward which is described as a psychiatric intensive care unit.

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said that it temporarily closed Rowanwood Ward on August 31 due to staffing issues.

CNTW bosses spoke at Cumbria County Council’s health scrutiny committee last week to explain their decision and what they are doing to address the staffing crisis.

Temporary staff were covering shifts at the ward, but the staffing crisis was set to become worse with notice periods set to expire as nurses moved on to more appealing roles elsewhere in the sector.

The source said: “It sticks in a lot of staff’s throat at the Carleton Clinic that the unit was closed.

“At the same time they’ve got a vulnerable young lad with learning disabilities locked away in that unit at all times. What they won’t have told you is Rowanwood has the only seclusion room in the hospital.

"Seclusion is basically the most restrictive intervention they have in mental health and there’s lots of governance around that and safety features. Things have moved on progressively over the years but it’s still in place.”

The patient has been in isolation for a week and a half and the situation has been reported to the Care Quality Commission.

Five members of staff are with the patient at all times.

The source said: “Isolation should never be used for a chap with a learning disability. If it was your brother or your father. How would you feel if he was locked in a room 24/7 with no access to fresh air?”

They called seclusion ‘barbaric’ but said staff felt they were not being listened to.

David Muir, group director at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “We cannot comment on individual patient cases. Our PICU unit at Rowanwood remains temporarily closed. Sometimes, patients with particularly complex needs may require a more specialised or bespoke environment over and above what a general ward can offer.

“As such we will utilise all our available resources, including our buildings, to meet the clinical needs of our patients, whether that be on a temporary, short term or emergency basis.”

The Care Quality Commission said: “We are aware of this situation and are liaising closely with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.”