RELATIVES of a patient at a Swindon mental health facility fear not enough is being done to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

They say she is frightened because patients have to use the same washing facilities and eat together.

Two family members of the vulnerable woman who is in the Applewood unit in Sandalwood Court have raised concerns over hygiene in the ward.

One relative said: “She told me there is no way she can keep apart from the other patients because they all eat in the same area, plus they use the same shower and bath, and there are no hand wipes or sanitisers available in the common area. She said that she’s scared and wants to leave.”

Another relative told the Adver: “We are trying to play it down for her and not scare her because being in a mental health ward is difficult enough without the extra stress of the pandemic, which could impact her recovery.

“The staff wear masks and things but I think the patients are less protected. There are basic hygiene issues that stick out to me. The cutlery is all in the same tray that everyone picks knives and forks out of.

“People there are not very well, so they are not of a mind to be fully hygienic. Those that want to be don’t have access to hand sanitiser or antiseptic wipes.

“The ensuite is just a toilet, the bathroom they share does not appear to be cleaned between uses and the residents must tidy up after themselves.

"I worry there’s a risk of someone spreading it. I don’t think the staff is doing enough, it makes little sense. Hygiene needs to be a top priority.”

The facility is run by the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, which explained the precautions being taken during the pandemic.

The trust’s chief operating officer Mathew Page said: “The safety of our staff and patients is extremely important to us and we are working hard to ensure we reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

“We have put in place a number of measures to help with this including restricting visiting and leave from the unit, in line with national guidance.

“We have space within the ward for patients and staff to maintain social distancing and all patients have been given guidance on how to wash hands correctly.

"All patients have single rooms with ensuite facilities, sofas have been replaced with chairs and dining tables extended to allow people to sit further apart.

"The shared bathrooms are kept locked when not in use and they are routinely cleaned between every use.

“Non-ward staff who can do so are working from home. Those who do need to come into the office are doing so for essential visits only - we are doing all we can to maintain social distancing.

“Our procurement team has been working hard to ensure access to the national supplies of personal protective equipment and cleaning products.”