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Concerns raised over private adult social care company Cygnet

THE Care Quality Commission (CQC) today raised serious concerns over the management of adult social care services by private healthcare company Cygnet.

Cygnet Health Care Limited was inspected by the watchdog between July and August 2019 after significant concerns regarding the safety and culture at Whorlton Hall were identified in a BBC Panorama documentary.

The NHS-funded and privately run site was shut down after the documentary was aired on May 22 last year.

It claimed that care staff deliberately harmed patients, restrained them for longer than needed, made threats and used offensive language towards them.

During the review, CQC inspectors found that a clear line of accountability was lacking at Cygnet.

Training for intermediate life-support was not provided to all relevant staff across services where physical restraint or tranquilisers were used, the review found.

The CQC found there was a high use of physical restraint and seclusion across services compared with other mental-health providers.

The number of patient assaults on other patients and self-harm incidents were also higher at Cygnet compared with NHS providers of similar services.

The report found that directors’ identity and disclosure-and-barring-service checks had been carried out, but that checks required to ensure directors and board members met the “fit and proper person” test for their roles had not been made.

The CQC’s deputy chief inspector for mental health and community services, Dr Kevin Cleary, said: “Cygnet must now take immediate action to address our concerns.”

Labour’s shadow minister for mental health and social care, Barbara Keeley, said: “This report shows the shocking and wholly unacceptable level of care provided by Cygnet at their hospitals, with unacceptable levels of restraint and seclusion and high levels of patient assaults.

“Cygnet should not be receiving NHS funding to deliver services that fall so far below the standard expected.

“Patients who currently use Cygnet’s services and their families will rightly be worried about the care they receive.”

She called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to “set out an urgent plan to ensure these patients are moved to safer hospitals.”

Cygnet said in a statement that “a number of the services highlighted in the report have improved” since the inspection happened in July last year.

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