Mental Health

13.02.19

Priory Group to close High Wycombe hospital after damning CQC report places it in special measures

A hospital for young people with learning disabilities run by a private mental health group has been put in special measures after a damning CQC report. The group has subsequently decided to apply to de-register the hospital and transfer its patients elsewhere.

The CQC found that neither the hospital and staff were equipped to care for teenagers with complex needs at the Priory Hospital High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, leading to an ‘inadequate’ rating overall.

It said that following its visit, Priory Group has decided to transfer the young people at unit and to apply to close the hospital.

The inspection identified “a number of serious problems concerning patient safety” requiring immediate attention at the low-secure hospital – which treats 13-17-year-olds with a diagnosis of learning disabilities or autism.

Karen Bennett-Wilson, head of hospital inspection and lead for mental health, said it was a matter of some concern that, at a specialist unit, some staff were unable to demonstrate the knowledge or specialist skills needed to care for vulnerable teenagers.

Inspectors found “noisy and disorientating” wards, with cases of a young person swallowing sharp objects such as screws and another where an agency staff member allegedly assaulted a patient.

Patient leave was often cancelled due to a lack of staff, and the hospital was not properly equipped to deal with the complex needs of patients, with no support plans or psychological therapies available to patients either.

Enforcement action has been taken and the hospital has been given an ‘inadequate’ rating by inspectors. Bennett-Wilson said the unit will remain in special measures until such time that the registration is cancelled.

Priory Group said changes had been made to the leadership at Priory Hospital High Wycombe, but had struggled with efforts to recruit more staff. Therefore, it has said that it’s in the best interests of the young people at the unit for alternative placements to be found for them.

This is not the first time Priory Group has received heavy criticism from the CQC, with inspectors at the private-owned provider’s Ticehurst House in June last year finding the facility to be in breach of multiple regulations relating to health care, staffing, and notification of incidents.

But whilst the mental health facility has seen major improvements in the past year, the NHS has also previously faced calls to cancel its contracts with the Priory Group over a series of child deaths, including that of Amy El-Keria.

Image credit - dragana991

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