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Specialist mental health unit failures exposed by patients

There are serious concerns over the standards of specialist care being provided to patients with the most complex mental health needs, a BBC investigation has found.

Patients sent by the NHS to stay in mental health rehabilitation units say they have been placed in unsafe environments, often far from home, with untrained staff.

Experts say not enough is being done to regulate the sector, which costs the NHS half a billion pounds a year.

Lissa had spent years struggling with her mental health, having experienced traumatic life events. She was diagnosed with mixed personality disorder, depression and high-functioning Asperger's. So when the NHS sent her to a unit in Coventry run by Cygnet Health Care for a specialist talking therapy, she agreed.

The hospital, however, was in special measures. There had been two deaths in the previous 20 months. In both cases there was found to be a failure to follow the patient's care plan and carry out observations correctly. Lissa says staff failed to treat her with dignity and respect.

The system in England is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, (CQC). Some rehabilitation wards haven't been inspected for four or more years.

John Chacksfield, who was a CQC inspector until late 2020, says greater scrutiny is needed.

"Sometimes the private sector provides really excellent service, but there are certain units that really do need regular inspections just to make sure staff are being trained enough, or are having enough clinical supervision. It does worry me," he says.

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Source: BBC News, 18 January 2022


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