A charity boss has condemned a hospital for its “disregard” for Haringey’s mental health sufferers.
Anita Hudson, the chief executive of Mind in Haringey, made the statement after St Ann’s Hospital, in St Ann’s Road, Tottenham, was told it urgently needed to improve the care it provides for its patients.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the mental health hospital in November and found that the hospital was still using seclusion rooms, which are meant to hold dangerous patients, as extra bed spaces.
In the report, inspectors said the hospital failed to ensure the “safety and welfare” of patients and that using seclusion rooms “compromised the dignity and wellbeing" of people who used the service.
Ms Hudson said she was “disappointed” that the seclusion rooms were still being used, despite a promise to stop using them from the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust.
She said: “I am concerned that this just highlights the lack of bed space available in Haringey, despite the mental health trust agreeing to add an additional 18 beds to the existing 36 when the site is redeveloped.
“This is still only 54 beds and is insufficient to meet the growing population and needs of residents.
“I am happy that they have now had a formal warning as perhaps now improvements will be made.”
The seclusion rooms are empty except for a mattress and cannot be opened from the inside, meaning a patient could be locked in the room if the door was closed.
This is the second time the hospital has been warned against using these rooms to house patients.
The trust, which runs the hospital, submitted an action plan to ensure the practice would stop after the issue was flagged up by the CQC in June.
But inspectors found that the practice was continuing just weeks after the first warning.
Patients were kept in those rooms on eight occasions, for more than 30 nights, between August 28, 2013, and November 17, 2013.
The hospital has previously been criticised for not having enough beds at a time when the number of people suffering from a mental illness is rising.
Mary Sexton, the director of nursing, quality and governance at the mental health trust, spoke of her disappointment on received the warning from the CQC.
She accepted that using seclusion rooms in this manner was “not good clinical practice” and promised the practice would stop.