Probe into abuse claims at hospital for men with learning disabilities

PUBLISHED: 00:01 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 07:51 12 April 2019

Dr Paul Lelliott, of the Care Quality Commission  Photo: PHILIP WOLMUTH

Dr Paul Lelliott, of the Care Quality Commission Photo: PHILIP WOLMUTH

© Philip Wolmuth

An independent mental health hospital has been placed into special measures after being rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The watchdog revealed its local safeguarding team was currently investigating allegations of abuse by staff, and incidents related to unexplained injuries of patients at Thors Park, in north Essex.

Inspectors found the Thorrington-based hospital, which supports up to 14 men with learning disabilities and complex needs, required significant improvements to ensure it was delivering safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led care.

At the time of the inspection in February, 11 men were receiving care and treatment at the hospital, rated ‘inadequate’ for being safe, responsive and well-led; ‘requires improvement’ for being effective, but ‘good’ for being caring.

An inspection in January 2018 rated it good overall, but the CQC carried out a focused inspection in October and November as a result of safeguarding concerns.

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said the service currently had no registered manager, and had a succession of managers over recent years, adding: “It must be asked whether these factors have contributed to the deterioration in the service since our last comprehensive inspection.

“It is unacceptable that staff have failed to take the necessary steps to keep patients safe or to keep the ward in a clean and well-maintained condition.”

He said a local safeguarding team was undertaking an investigation triggered by allegations of abuse towards patients and incidents related to unexplained injuries of patients.

Cygnet Health Care, which recently acquired care provider The Danshell Group, said it was undertaking an in-depth review of its facilities, adding: “Immediately following the CQC’s inspection and ahead of the publication of the report, we began taking steps to address the concerns raised. We are already implementing a comprehensive action plan to address the issues referenced in the CQC report.

“Cygnet Health Care’s own portfolio does not have any inadequate rated facilities and as an organisation, patient care remains our top priority. We are committed to continuously improving procedures, protocols and training, which we recognise are all critical to providing the highest standards of healthcare.”

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