Questions over future of private hospital rated ‘inadequate’ twice in a row

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 struggling private hospital is facing questions over its future as a watchdog said it may trigger enforcement action to prevent it from operating.

Cygnet Yew Trees, a 10-bed hospital for women with learning disabilities, has been rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission for the second time in a row.

Criticising “crowded” environments which meant some women were violent and aggressive towards staff and other patients, experts also said not enough had been done to address safety concerns raised at a previous full inspection in April last year.

After that visit, the CQC rated the hospital ‘requires improvement’ but pulled the rating down to ‘inadequate’ in a follow-up inspection in October 2019.

MORE: Private hospital slammed by watchdog and threatened with closureInspectors visited the facility, in Kirby-le-Soken, near Walton-on-the-Naze, again on three dates in January and produced a report with their findings this week.

However a spokesman for Cygnet Healthcare, which runs the facility, said they had insufficient time to implement the action plan drawn up after the October visit.

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During their January inspection, the CQC found:

• The hospital had insufficient space for the number of complex patients with challenging behaviour. Staffing levels required to carry out patient observations made the environment crowded

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• There were a number of incidents where patients were violent and aggressive towards staff or other patients, affected by the lack of space.

• Despite being a hospital for women, from November 2019 to January 2020, only 40% of staff were female. This meant there were often insufficient female staff to support patients with personal care needs

• Eight of 10 patients had delayed discharges. Staff spoke with inspectors about the challenges of working with commissioners to find and fund suitable placements outside of the hospital. The average length of stay at the hospital was three years

However, inspectors said most staff felt respected, supported and valued – and they were discreet, respectful, and responsive when caring for patients.

Cygnet Healthcare, which runs the hospital, had brought the facility and others in under one operations director to help improve management structure, the CQC added.

The hospital will remain in special measures, with the CQC beginning the process of preventing the provider from operating the service unless sufficient improvements are made within six months.

What did the provider have to say?

A Cygnet Healthcare spokeswoman said: “While we acknowledge the findings of the CQC report, the report does not reflect the exceptionally short time frame involved in measuring progress.

“Although we had implemented a comprehensive action plan to address the issues that we were made aware of in October, we did not have sight of the CQC’s detailed findings from the October inspection or a full list of areas for improvement until 20 January.

“This gave us insufficient time to fully embed all the improvements and new processes before the follow-up inspection which started on 13 January and concluded on 29 January.

The spokeswoman added: “We take seriously the provision of highly specialised care, and would like to reassure patients and their families that a new management team has been appointed and we have addressed all the issues raised to ensure relevant changes and improvements are embedded in practice.

“The report acknowledges that Cygnet Yew Trees staff were discreet, respectful and responsive when caring for patients and that patients were involved in their own care and supported with activities outside the service, including to keep in contact with their families and carers, which in the current circumstances is now more important than ever.”

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