A number of patients have reported “degrading” treatment by staff at a privately-run mental health service censured by the Care Quality Commission.
The CQC issued Partnerships in Care with three warning notices after a highly-critical report failed the private firm’s Annesley House hospital against all five standards of care it was inspected against in June of this year. The private provider said “all of the issues” identified by CQC have since been addressed.
Patients said some staff members at the Nottingham hospital were “brilliant” but others had “mocked and humiliated them”. Bullying on wards was also a “persistent problem” at the service, which provides low secure and rehabilitation wards for female patients, CQC found.
“One patient told us how embarrassed she had felt when she was denied appropriate support to manage menstruation whilst in seclusion, and explained she was then made to wait for 20 minutes in the morning to take a shower,” the CQC’s report found.
When the patient told staff she wanted to make a complaint about the incident she was allegedly told “there was no point as nothing could be done about it”.
In a separate incident, a patient felt her dignity had been “compromised” after she was taken to a doctor’s appointment to undergo a “personally invasive” medical procedure wearing handcuffs. The CQC found no evidence that the less restrictive option of having a doctor visit the hospital had been considered.
The regulator said that patient information about “staff treating patients in a disrespectful manner” had been corroborated by evidence received from an anonymous source.
The CQC also said it had received an “escalating volume” of complaints over several problems at the service following a visit by a Mental Health Act Commissioner in May. Other issues raised in the report included:
- Some staff imposed rules on patients that restricted their autonomy, including access to extra food portions. One staff member said “there is no consent about (restrictions on food), it just happens”;
- Staff were concerned that people at risk of bullying, harm and abuse had been placed on wards alongside people “who may exploit vulnerability”;
- A whistleblower told the CQC that this lack of attention to patient mix had led to “increasing levels of self-harm” at the hospital;
- Patients disputed official records stating that they had been involved in their care plans;
- CQC received complaints that staffing levels on the ward were insufficient, the gender mix of staff was inappropriate and there were “few activities” to keep people occupied on wards;
- The service was “not well led and managed” and clinical governance systems were ineffective;
- Complaints were not responded to in line with the provider’s policy and some patients “feared recriminations” if they raised issues.
In a statement, Partnerships in Care said it has “now addressed all of the issues” identified in the CQC report and said “significant progress” had been made in improving care standards at Annesley House since the regulator’s inspection in June.
“We take seriously any and all reports by patients of concerns they may have, fully investigate all reports transparently and where we find improvements can be made we take immediate action,” a statement said.
“Partnerships in Care has a good past record in relation to compliance and through immediate action we are confident we will rectify the problems the CQC identified. We welcome future visits from the CQC where we hope to evidence improvements as required and demonstrate a high quality of service for patients at Annesley House.”Andy McNicoll is Community Care’s community editor