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Mental health hospital closed by CQC after abuse claims.

A mental health hospital has been closed by health and care watchdog, Care Quality Commission (CQC), after evidence of the physical and emotional abuse of patients.  

All eight residents who were receiving treatment at Cygnet Yew Trees, Kirby-le-Soken, Essex, when CQC inspected in July and August 2020, have been moved elsewhere.

The unannounced inspections were prompted by allegations of patient abuse, raised with CQC by operator, Cygnet.

Cygnet’s concerns were substantiated when inspectors reviewed closed-circuit television recordings, which revealed some staff had physically and emotionally abused patients.

Footage also showed some staff had acted disrespectfully towards patients, intimidating them through aggressive behaviour and violating their human rights.

CQC reviewed 21 separate pieces of footage and concluded that 40% "included examples of inappropriate staff behaviour.”

CCTV film captured workers "physically and emotionally abusing a patient", and failing to use "appropriate restraint techniques", the CQC report said.

It identified "negative interactions where staff visibly became angry with patients" and two cases where staff "dragged patients across the floor.”

The inspectors added: "We witnessed abusive, disrespectful, intimidating, aggressive and inappropriate behavior."

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, Dr Kevin Cleary, said: “Our latest inspection of Cygnet Yew Trees revealed that residents were not just subjected to poor care but also to abuse.

“Some staff who had witnessed this abuse did not escalate it. Although they may have feared the consequences of speaking out against colleagues who had abused patients, their failure to act perpetuated abuse and allowed a culture of poor care to become established.

“Cygnet’s leadership made efforts to address the harm people experienced while in its care, including suspending staff and making police referrals but this does not alter the fact that a culture was allowed to develop at this hospital which led to people suffering abuse.”

A spokeswoman for Cygnet Health Care said: "Cygnet has a zero-tolerance approach to any kind of abuse, which is why the well-established policies and processes we have in place to safeguard people in our care were backed up by the use of closed-circuit TV at Yew Trees.”

Cygnet Yew Trees is a 10-bed hospital that cares for women aged more than 18 living with learning disabilities and mental health needs.