Patient safety

12.04.19

Mental health hospital placed into special measures after claims of abuse and unexplained injuries

An Essex mental health hospital has been placed into special measures after allegations of abuse of patients by staff and a number of incidents of unexplained injuries to patients.

Inspectors found that “safety was not a priority” at Thors Park, an independent mental health hospital in Essex, with staff failing to manage the risks to patients, maintain a clean hospital or meet people’s needs.

The CQC has rated the hospital, which supports up to 14 men with learning disabilities and complex needs, ‘inadequate’ and placed it into special measures, just over a year after the hospital received a ‘good’ rating.

The hospital has been under close scrutiny since an inspection in October and November and has been issued several warnings by the CQC regarding safety, governance and staffing.

The CQC report said the local safeguarding team is currently undertaking a safeguarding investigation “triggered by allegations of abuse by staff towards patients and a number of incidents related to unexplained injuries of patients.”

Staff had failed to take the necessary steps to keep patients safe, medications were not managed appropriately and equipment not replaced with an oxygen cylinder remaining empty since November last year.

The provider had not ensured the hospital was adequately maintained, and staff did not mask risks to the people using the services and did not intervene in situations of challenging behaviour towards the inspection team.

The provider, which currently cares for 11 patients each funded by a different CCG from around the country, had also not repaired a clinic room door, compromising the security of the room and posing a risk to patients and staff with one incident seeing a patient forcibly accessing the room.

Inspectors also criticised the governance of the hospital, with managers failing to identify issues or take adequate action to manage them which “comprised staff and patient safety.”

CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, Paul Lelliott, said: “The service currently has no registered manager and has had a succession of managers over recent years.

“It must be asked whether these factors have contributed to the deterioration in the service since our last comprehensive inspection in January 2018.”

“Over the past four years, there has been a drive to reduce the number of hospital beds and improve health and care services so that more people with learning disabilities can live in the community, with the right support. 

“It is therefore troubling that CQC is placing this hospital for men with learning disabilities and complex needs into special measures.”

Lelliott stated: “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.

 “We will monitor the situation at Thors Park closely and take any further action necessary to keep the people receiving care there safe.”

Cygnet Health Care, who recently acquired the provider Danshell Group, said it was take immediate action to address the concerns raised.

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