Trust acts to reassure St Albans mother’s safety concerns over mental health unit

CAMHS St Albans clinic

CAMHS St Albans clinic - Credit: Archant

More measures are needed to protect children visiting a mental health unit in St Albans, according to an annoyed mum who has been in talks with a trust about her safety fears.

Last month, the Herts Advertiser carried a story about Caroline, who does not want her surname published, criticising health chiefs for failing to go far enough to protect children and teenagers visiting the specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit in Waverley Road.

A man approached her son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, in a children’s-only waiting room as there were was no security in place, and no other staff stopped him from entering the area.

The incident occurred when Caroline was asked to leave the 15 year old in the waiting room while she spoke with his psychiatrist.

As her son has previously suffered from bullying at school, and has been prescribed antidepressants, Caroline described him as ‘vulnerable’.

Having a stranger - another patient - suddenly approach him several times in the waiting room, while the teen was sitting there alone had unnerved her son, she explained.

A spokeswoman for the Herts Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust has said that during a revamp of the unit some time ago, a one-way glass window had been installed ‘the wrong way around’.

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She said that would now be replaced in the correct way, in addition to the installation of a glass door separating the children’s and adults’ areas of the unit, which would be accessible by a staff swipe-card only.

But Caroline said such measures did not go far enough, as “children and adults should not be treated at the same unit. I have told them it is no good, as they shouldn’t be in the same building.”

The trust spokeswoman responded: “Children’s safety is our priority and the steps we are taking are fair.

“We do not have the choice of treating people in separate units, as there are limited resources. Although in an ideal world we would, there is no choice in the matter. We are holding discussions about when the glass and the door will be put in.”