Female mental health patient ‘slapped and kicked’ by staff, say inspectors

Cygnet Yew Trees, in The Street, Kirby-le-Soken Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Cygnet Yew Trees, in The Street, Kirby-le-Soken Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

A female patient at an Essex mental health hospital was dragged, slapped and kicked by staff, inspectors have said.

The accusations come following an unannounced inspection of Cygnet Yew Trees in Kirby-le-Soken by healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission, after provider Cygnet Health Care reported allegations of patient abuse.

Inspectors visited the 10-bed facility for women over the age of 18 who have a learning disability in July and August this year.

They said closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of 21 episodes were reviewed and they witnessed staff shoving, dragging, slapping and kicking a patient in nine of them.

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In a report, they said the clips showed “examples of staff abusing patients, acting inappropriately or delivering a poor standard of care”.

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Eight permanent members of staff working at the hospital have been suspended, while Cygnet has made referrals to police and offered psychological support to those abused.

There are now no patients at the hospital, which has been rated “inadequate” by CQC inspectors.

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Full details of regulatory action that the CQC may take will be published as soon as legal restrictions permit, the watchdog said.

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Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: “Our latest inspection of Cygnet Yew Trees revealed that people who lived there were being subjected not only to poor care, but to abuse.

“Some staff who had witnessed this abuse did not escalate it.

“Although they may have feared the consequences of speaking out against colleagues who had abused patients, their failure to act perpetuated abuse and allowed a culture of poor care to become established.

“Cygnet’s leadership has made efforts to address the harm people experienced while in its care, including suspending staff and making police referrals.

“This does not change or excuse the fact that a culture was allowed to develop at this hospital which led to people suffering abuse.

“Any enforcement action we may take will be published as soon as legal restrictions allow.”

Staff were also seen, however, to show a good quality of care while engaging with patients.

In a statement, a Cygnet Health Care spokesman said the group is appalled by what had happened.

They added: ”As soon as the issues came to light, our managers took steps to support the two patients involved, including to offer specialist support.

“We are also doing everything we can to assist the authorities to fully investigate what happened.”

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