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February 10 2020

Care Quality Commission criticises care firm's leadership

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised concerns about the leadership at Cygnet Health Care, the firm at the centre of a BBC expose over allegations of abuse at a mental health hospital.

The BBC's Panorama programme, broadcast in May 2019, filmed undercover at County Durham's learning disabilities unit Whorlton Hall, run by Cygnet Health Care.

The CQC followed this up with a probe into the firm's management. The firm said it was addressing concerns that had been raised.

The BBC now reports that the CQC found 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.

CQC's findings


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.

But 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.

owever, 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.

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.
 
Image: Cygnet Health Care