Private hospital slammed by watchdog and threatened with closure
PUBLISHED: 12:54 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:39 30 January 2020
A private hospital in Colchester could close if improvements aren't made rapidly, a watchdog has warned.
The 54-bed Cygnet Hospital Colchester, which cares for men with learning disabilities and mental health conditions, has received another scathing review from the Care Quality Commission after a visit in November.
It remains in special measures and the CQC is now taking action against the private provider, which means it could be closed, or have its services cut.
The news comes as another hospital owned by Cygnet was also given the watchdog's lowest possible rating of 'inadequate' and criticised for patient-on-patient assaults - with inspectors also finding evidence of one person choking twice in one day.
Cygnet Yew Trees, in Kirby-le-Soken, is a smaller 10-bed hospital for women living with learning disabilities.
'Urgent action may be taken'
Dr Kevin Cleary, the CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: "Our inspection of Cygnet Hospital Colchester found it had not addressed issues highlighted following the inspection in April and May 2019.
"People were not always treated with kindness, respect or compassion.
"CCTV footage from Ramsey ward - a long-stay ward for working-age adults - showed an incident where staff appeared intimidating and did not follow a person's management plan, which affected their dignity.
"The provider knew what steps it had to take for this service to exit special measures following our previous inspection, but the hospital's manager had not been given sufficient support and resources to implement essential changes in a timely manner.
He added: "The provider knows what improvements must be made to retain the service's registration.
"The service will be kept under close review, including through future inspections, and we will take urgent action if we suspect people may be at risk of harm."
However, inspectors did see some good practice, particularly on the hospital's acute ward for working-age adults and its psychiatric intensive care unit.
Staff were experienced with the right skills and qualifications, and worked well with external medics to meet people's holistic needs, they said.
At Cygnet Yew Trees, inspectors found a number of "serious issues".
Dr Cleary added: "There were instances where patient safety was compromised because staff did not always know how to respond to serious incidents or manage risk.
"Not all incidents were recorded appropriately or escalated, including following a patient-on-patient assault which was not raised with CQC or the local authority.
"We also found evidence of a patient choking twice on the same day, despite records identifying this risk."
This latest inspection saw the hospital downgraded from 'requires improvement' and placed in special measures. It will have six months to improve.
What did the provider have to say?
A Cygnet spokesman said: "While we acknowledge the CQC's report and remain committed to improving our service, we are very encouraged by the report findings regarding improvements around our leadership in the last 12 months and since our last April 2019 inspection, the ability to fully meet patient needs through increased staffing, and patients across all wards saying staff treat them well and behave kindly.
"CQC has recognised we have implemented improvements, strengthened our leadership and established a more robust management and governance structure to share learning.
"Our acute ward for adults and our psychiatric intensive care unit are now rated as 'good' for being effective, caring and responsive. The CQC observed that staff understood the individual needs of patients and communicated with them effectively.
"We are not complacent and take very seriously the provision of high quality care for our patients and we will continue to work together with the CQC and our partners to ensure all recommendations are fully implemented and improvements continue to be made."
Regarding the Yew Trees inspection, the spokesman added: "While we acknowledge the findings of this CQC report from October 2019, it refers to an inspection that focused on only a small part of the service and we have made improvements in the last three months. At the time, a new management team had been appointed and since the inspection all the recommendations have been implemented and both the CQC and staff have acknowledged the significant progress made.
"We take seriously the provision of highly specialist services for patients, with our staff praised by the CQC for being 'kind, caring and compassionate' and patients stating that 'staff made them feel safe'.
"The report also says managers had up-to-date oversight of risks, that staff felt able to raise concerns and were confident that the appropriate action would be taken.
"The CQC's most recent inspection was in January 2020 we expect those findings to be published soon.
They added: "We are not complacent and continue to work closely with the CQC and our partners to ensure we demonstrate and deliver the highest possible standards of care and where we must make improvements we are committed to doing so."