THE Observer takes me to task for the failings that emerged on Fletcher ward at Northwick Park Hospital (How can this happen? - September 25).
I accept full responsibility on behalf of the PCT,w and we have already apologised to the patients concerned and their relatives. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the wider public in Harrow for our failing to meet the standard of care we and they expect us to provide.
This PCT took immediate action to call the police in as soon as one case of inappropriate restraint was reported to us in November 2007.
We began our inquiry in February 2008, as soon as the police had concluded that no individuals should face charges. Our investigation looked at a period of three weeks, not just the original reported case. We interviewed staff and many patients or their families were visited by specially trained individuals and asked about their experience on the ward.
Although we found an additional four cases where inappropriate restraint was used, we also had feedback from many patients and their families that they had received excel-lent care on the ward. Language in your paper such as 'tied up like animals' and 'restrained like criminals' cannot be justified by the facts, and adds to the distress of families we have worked to engage sensitively in our investigation.
I do not underesti-mate the courage it has taken many families to talk to us and it is unfortunate you chose to sensationalise the story in the way you did.
Our priority once the inquiry was complete was to share the findings with the families, all of whom received an advance copy of the report, and that is why the document was not ready until the day of our board meeting. However, it was placed on our website after the meeting. I don't think publishing on a public website can attract the description 'buried' in anyone's reading of the English language.
Copies of the report are available from the PCT and anyone with concerns about treatment they received on Fletcher Ward can ring our dedicated helpline on 020 8966 1031.
DR SARAH CROWTHER
The Heights Lowlands Road Harrow-on-the-Hill