Mental health hospital provider faces possible £150,000 fine

A private mental health hospital could be fined more than £150,000 if found guilty of breaches of care standards regulations.

The Care Quality Commission is prosecuting Care Principles alleging more than 60 breaches of regulations at Linden House, a private mental health hospital it runs in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire. It faces a maximum fine of £2,500 for each breach.

An initial hearing was held at Beverley Magistrates’ Court, East Yorkshire, this week. The full case will be heard at a county court.

The case follows a series of damning inspection reports on the low- to medium-secure hospital by the CQC and its predecessor, the Healthcare Commission, since early 2008, which led the regulators to issue a series of statutory enforcement notices requiring improvements.

Medication and risk assessments

The prosecution is based on failings identified since September 2008.

An inspection in March found the hospital had made significant progress in some areas, including boosting staff numbers, but other requirements under statutory notices had not been met. These included:

  • A small number of risk assessment and management plans for patients were not being reviewed after an untoward incident.
  • It was not clear that patients were involved in the risk assessment process.
  • Medication stock checks were not completed weekly.

Two more notices

The report sparked two further statutory notices after failings were identified: appraisals had not been carried out with all staff and there was no evidence that a suicide/self-harm audit had been carried out. 

The latest inspection, in July, found that Linden House had met the requirement to carry out a suicide/self-harm audit but not to provide all staff with appraisals.

This could prompt further legal action if the regulator concludes the hospital has not responded appropriately.

CQC senior enforcement manager Tim Weller said: “It is good that Linden House has addressed some of the issues we highlighted previously, although further improvement is still required.”

Progress made

A spokesperson for Care Principles said it could not comment on the legal proceedings, but welcomed the publication of the latest inspection report.

The spokesperson added: “It reflects the efforts that have been and are being made since the events of 2008 that are the subject of the legal proceedings to continuously improve the standards of care at Linden House. The lifting of two of the three regulation 51 enforcement notices against the hospital, and the constructive engagement with CQC, reflects the progress that has been made and the commitment of all those involved at Linden House.

“The management team at Linden House continues to implement significant policy changes and robust protocols since the events of 2008 that have reinvigorated the total quality standards at the hospital and we are confident that we will be able to continue to make great strides in care standards.”

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