Patients ‘felt safe all day’ during last week’s flood at Dane Garth

Patients who were on the mental health inpatient unit at Furness General unit when it flooded last week have shared their experiences of the evacuation of the unit.

A burst pipe caused flooding at Dane Garth on the Furness General Hospital site on Monday afternoon and saw the building evacuated.  All patients are now safely back on the wards, thanks to a quick response from staff, colleagues from health, social and emergency services working together to manage the incident.

A patient meeting was held when everyone arrived back at the ward to talk about their experiences and some of the comments can be found below:

“We were kept updated throughout the day’

“concerns over medication were dealt with promptly”

“hot drinks available at all times”

“even got a packed lunch at tea time”

“one big communal area all together”

“staff worked hard keeping us calm and finding places for us to go overnight”

“felt safe all day”

Staff worked tirelessly, late into the evening to deal with the incident – coordinating transport, medication and patient care from a neighbouring building.

Colleagues from a number of organisations worked together to ensure that patients were relocated quickly, safely and with as little disruption as possible. Staff from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust helped Cumbria Fire Service evacuate the building and accompanied patients to their temporary care settings. The Morecambe Bay University Hospitals Trust were quick to offer up beds at Furness General Hospital and office space for affected staff. Barbara Redshaw from Risedale Estates offered up space for 12 patients at Abbey Meadows nursing home, ensuring the beds were made up and food was ready for them as soon as they arrived. Other patients were transferred to Yewdale Ward in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Carleton Clinic. Additional staff were available on the wards and in the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team to ensure the safe care of patients overnight.

The North West Ambulance Trust helped transport some of the patients, and North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust were on standby to help if needed. The knock on effect of patients being relocated meant that admissions to mental health wards in the rest of the county were temporarily closed, but all the partner organisations, including Cumbria County Council and the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group were involved throughout the incident to ensure that a contingency plan was in place.

Estates and Facilities staff from Cumbria Partnership were quick on the scene to assess the damage, ensure it was safe for patients and staff to return and make arrangements for repairs, which will include replacing some of the carpets. Most of the damage was contained to office areas - the wards themselves escaped unscathed – which means some staff will have to work elsewhere this week until repairs can be made.

The local Asda also very kindly donated cakes for the staff who were working hard in the incident room.

Nichola Sanderson, Associate Director of Nursing for Mental Health said: “Thanks to the hard work and quick thinking of our staff and colleagues from our partner organisations, the incident was dealt with swiftly and calmly. All patients were temporarily relocated in settings appropriate for their needs, and have now returned to the wards where we are focusing on helping them settle back in. We are sorry for the disruption that this has caused to our patients, and throughout the incident we were in contact with carers and families to reassure them that we were able to continue to provide appropriate care. As well as all our staff and colleagues involved, we would like to thank our patients and their families for their support and patience.”

The Danegarth Unit at Furness General Hospital includes two wards – Dova is a 20 bedded unit for adults with acute mental health needs and Ramsey is a 15 bedded unit for older adults with illnesses such as dementia.