Care firm’s leadership criticised by Care Quality Commission

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Concerns have been raised by inspectors about the leadership at a firm at the centre of a BBC expose over allegations of abuse at a mental health hospital.

The Panorama investigation – aired in May – was based on undercover filming at County Durham’s learning disabilities unit Whorlton Hall.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) followed this up with a probe into the management of Cygnet Health Care.

The firm said it was addressing concerns that had been raised.

The CQC found that patients under the firm’s care were more likely to be restrained.

Higher rates of self-harm were also noted by inspectors who quizzed managers and analysed records at the company’s headquarters.

Cygnet runs more than 100 services for vulnerable adults and children, caring for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and eating disorders.

What else did inspectors find?

The regulator found a lack of clear lines of accountability between the executive team and its services.

It said directors’ identity and disclosure and barring service checks had been carried out.

Bit it said that required checks had not been made to ensure that directors and board members met the “fit and proper” person test for their roles.

Systems used to manage risk were also criticised, while training for intermediate life support was not provided to all relevant staff across services where physical intervention or rapid tranquilisation was used.

However, the CQC did say that the senior leadership team was responding to concerns, and pointed out that most services run by the provider were rated as good with some as outstanding.

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Whorlton Hall was closed following the Panorama expose last year

Cygnet said it was taking steps to improve services, but added it was “not complacent” and would “take on board” the recommendations.

A spokeswoman added: “We treat some of the most acute patients that other providers may not be able or willing to support.

“We always aim to de-escalate and advocate least restrictive practices in line with current good practice guidelines.”

The unit at the centre of the BBC allegations has been closed. While it was privately run, it was NHS-funded.

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