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Urgent action taken over mental health hospital that 'did not protect patients'.


Urgent action has been taken against a women's mental health hospital that had a "toxic" culture and put patients at risk, the health regulator has confirmed.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found Cygnet Appletree, Durham, had not protected patients "from abuse or poor care.”

Following an inspection in April 2021, the CQC restricted the hospital from taking new patients without prior written consent.

The CQC's report said staff rarely attempted to calm patients down before resorting to physically restraining them and injecting fast-acting tranquilisers, which were "used frequently without clear rationale.”

CCTV showed patients who had been taken to their rooms in restraint were prevented from leaving by staff blocking the doorway or locking the door.

Staff at the hospital described some of the management team as "bullies", while other staff were said to have posted inappropriate content on social media.

The CQC said staff had described a "toxic" culture, where people who were friends with managers "were not disciplined and were given preferential treatment.”

Head of the CQC hospital inspection for mental health, Brian Cranna, said inspectors were "deeply concerned" about the care provided and the failure to use less restrictive practices to resolve incidents was "unacceptable.”

He said the CQC "immediately took urgent action to stop new admissions" and commissioners had then worked with Cygnet to transfer all patients "to ensure they receive the appropriate care they require.”

The CQC previously inspected the hospital in August 2020 and found it was failing to keep patients safe.

Cygnet said it had since made "all the necessary changes required by the CQC". A spokeswoman said that, due to the progress the hospital had made since April, it was now accepting new admissions.

She added that a new hospital director had been appointed and other "extensive changes" had been made, including giving "additional staff training with a focus on creating a safe environment.”