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Women 'at risk of harm' in North East mental health hospital, inspectors find.


A women's mental health hospital failed to keep patients safe, the health and care watchdog has found.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Cygnet Appletree, Durham, after concerns were raised by whistleblowers.

CQC inspectors found a range of issues including a failure to properly monitor patients who had been restrained using rapid tranquilisers.

The CQC visited the hospital's 10-bed Pippin ward, which provides "high-intensity care and treatment for people whose illness means they cannot be safely or easily managed on an acute ward.”

At the time of their visit, the ward had nine patients and issues identified by CQC inspectors included staff failing to notice one woman had not eaten for 10 days until she collapsed and a woman monitored for only one minute after being restrained with a rapid tranquiliser, going against guidance which urges hourly checks until there are no further health concerns.

Inspectors also found that only 50% of staff were trained in immediate life support; possible ligature points and blind spots in rooms had not been identified, staff were not trained in recording incidents and that public Health England guidance was not being followed in the use of personal protective equipment related to Covid-19.

CQC deputy chief inspector, Dr Kevin Cleary, said the hospital "was not ensuring its patients' safety" with a "lack of oversight from managers" and failure to follow policies behind many of the shortcomings."

A spokeswoman for the hospital said all staff were now trained properly and the problems had been addressed.

She said: "We are confident that the service today is very different to the one reflected in the report and mirrors the high standards of safety and care that merited the hospital a Good CQC rating in the previous inspection report nine months before."