Hospital firm ‘regrets’ failings in mental health care quality

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A low to medium-secure hospital in East Yorkshire is among a number nationally that failed to meet the grade in recent unannounced inspections.

The latest findings from the Care Quality Commission shows that just four of 20 NHS and privately-run units for people with learning disabilities seen complied with essential standards for care and welfare and safeguarding.

Among those to raise concerns was Linden House, near Market Weighton, which takes patients with personality disorders, challenging behaviour and learning disabilities.

The hospital hit the headlines a year ago after three patients ended up in hospital after breaking into a drug store.

It is now in the hands of new operators Four Seasons Health Care, who took over last July. They said yesterday they were addressing the criticisms “as a matter of urgency”.

Patients and their relatives were mostly positive about the hospital, which the inspectors said generally provided “effective” and “safe” care but had “moderate” concerns over care and welfare and safeguarding, related to a patient who had part of their medication stopped for two months, a mistake which “badly affected their health and welfare”, and also over the recording of incidents where patients were restrained.

Over the latter the CQC concluded: “Overall this means that patients living at Linden House were not always protected from abuse or the risk of abuse.”

The report said when the mistake over the medication was noticed by the doctor, staff took immediate steps, apologised to the patient and informed the CQC.

The inspections led the CQC to issue a formal warning over Walkern Lodge, a hospital for up to six women in Stevenage run by the private firm Cambian Learning Disabilities Limited.

Inspectors said they had “major concerns” regarding safeguarding at Walkern Lodge as well as Bloomfield Court and 5, 6 Ivy Mews in London, run by private firm Curocare Limited. There were also moderate concerns about care and welfare at the Curocare site.

At Walkern Lodge, inspectors found staff saying they regularly restrained people with learning disabilities but proper logs were not kept and managers denied it even happened. Two staff were suspended during the investigation.

Inspectors also found incidents relating to “missing money, a disclosure of alleged abuse, a potential incident of physical abuse and two separate incidents of serious self harm, that had not been reported to the Hertfordshire safeguarding team or to us, the Commission”.

The CQC said it had since been back to inspect Walkern Lodge and was satisfied that “necessary improvements” had been made.

Four Seasons Health Care said: “We regret that the quality of care provided by Linden House fell short of the standards we expect to deliver. We have accepted the criticisms of the CQC inspectors and are addressing them as a matter of urgency.

“Our priority is to ensure the welfare and appropriate care of our patients and we have a comprehensive improvement plan that we are implementing.”