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Private hospital paid millions by NHS has history of poor care, watchdog warns

Aprivate mental health hospital used by the NHS has been sanctioned by the service’s safety watchdog, which warned it has had a “history” of substandard care.

Cygnet Hospital Wyke, in West Yorkshire, run by Cygnet Health Care has been criticised by the Care Quality Commission in a damning new report.

Cygnet Health Care is one of the largest providers of privately run inpatient mental health hospitals in the UK and receives hundreds of millions of pounds from the NHS each year.

Following an inspection, the CQC has rated the service inadequate and has issued the hospital with an “enforcement action” notice, which means if it does not improve, the regulator will take further action which can include closing the service.

Inspectors raised concerns over staff altering patients’ medication records and gaps in records being completed retrospectively.

Sheila Grant, CQC deputy director of operations in the region, said: “Over the last few years, Cygnet Hospital Wyke has a history of providing care which is below the standard that people have a right to expect, despite several interventions by CQC. There is a history of us telling the hospital where they need to improve, but the changes not being widespread, rapid, or embedded well enough to be sustained, which is what we found again at this most recent inspection.”

On one ward, which had patients with autism, patients had to wear “ear defenders” due to the “noisy and chaotic” environment.

“This is totally unacceptable, and improvements must be made to ensure autistic people and people with a learning disability on this ward receive the high standard of specialist care they need and deserve,” Ms Grant said.

Cygnet Health Care has faced several damning reports from the CQC over several of its services.

In September last year, it was fined £1.5m following a prosecution brought by the CQC over the death of a young woman in its Ealing Hospital.

A spokesperson for Cygnet Hospital Wyke said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of this inspection and the overall rating that has been given.

“Whilst we recognise and respect the importance of regulatory scrutiny, on this occasion we feel the outcome does not reflect the whole hospital setting, nor does it reflect wider feedback from professional stakeholders and authorities who regularly visit and inspect the service.

“The CQC has confirmed this inspection was one of the very last to be conducted under their old methodology. We have therefore requested a review of this rating and would welcome a return visit by the inspection team using the CQC’s new assessment framework, which calculates ratings differently.”

The hospital said despite this it is not complacent and has begun making improvements.

“The inspection team highlighted improvements in the report and upgraded the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and Acute wards to ‘Good’ for being effective, caring and responsive,” it said.

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