A MEMBER of staff has been sacked and another is being investigated after they were found sleeping on the job at a mental health unit.

The South Essex Partnership Trust is investigating the incident, at the Basildon Mental Health Unit, based in the grounds of Basildon Hospital.

Action was taken after a patient seeking help in the assessment unit failed to get a response from two male workers.

One was asleep onamattress in a ladies’ quiet room, while the other was asleep behind a desk.

The patient was taken into the unit by the police after concerns about her welfare.

She said: “When I woke in the night, I went to find a member of staff. They were asleep at the desk. I took a photo and knocked on the window, no response, then knocked on the door and there was no response. I went down the corridor to the ladies’ quiet room and there was a male member of staff on the floor on the mattress asleep. The door was unlocked and I was upset and crying as I needed help.

“I was so upset and went to the office and a female member of staff appeared and I told her what had gone on with these two male members of staff. She told me: ‘We can sue you for taking pictures of us.’ “There were supposed to be night staff – why were these staff asleep? We were in a secure mental assessment unit. They are supposed to keep an eye on us.”

The assessment unit has 20 beds and is manned by five members of staff.

A spokesman for the partnership trust said it was investigating the incident, which happened on Tuesday, May 13.

In a statement, the trust said: “The trust responded immediately when this incident was reported and we have continued to maintain a regular dialogue with the patient.

“We can confirm that following this incident the staff involved have been the subject of an ongoing disciplinary investigation.

So far, this has resulted in one member of staff being removed from our service.

“We would like to take this opportunity to reassure our patients and the public that we do not tolerate anything that could compromise the delivery of safe and high quality services.”

The trust was investigated by the Care Quality Commission in January, but the assessment unit was not visited by the inspectors.

However, inspectors did uncover problems on the Hadleigh mental health unit with a lack of staff and poor record keeping.

The trust has addressed its staffing concerns and will face further assessment over its record keeping in August.