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Six hospitals plummeted to ‘inadequate’ in wake of Whorlton Hall

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated six mental health hospitals “inadequate”, just months after describing them as either “good” or “outstanding”, since the Whorlton Hall scandal was revealed.

HSJ analysis shows that of the 13 mental health hospitals admitting people with learning disabilities or autism which have been rated “inadequate” by the CQC since May this year, six of them dropped at least two ratings in a short space of time. The six hospitals which dropped at least two ratings include Whorlton Hall — the County Durham hospital closed following a BBC Panorama report in May showing residents being mistreated — which the CQC rated as “good” in December 2017 before revising this to “inadequate” in May.

The BBC investigation prompted the CQC to investigate all similar mental health hospitals run by Cygnet, which took over the running of Whorlton Hall in January 2019. 

Cygnet Newbus Grange in Darlington — which was rated “outstanding” in a report published in February 2019 – was judged “inadequate” by September, while Cygnet Acer Clinic in Chesterfield fell from “good” in November 2018 to “inadequate’ in a report published 12 months later.

The other three hospitals were the Breightmet Centre for Autism in Bolton, Kneesworth House in Hertfordshire and The Woodhouse Independent Hospital in Staffordshire.

It comes as the CQC prepares to publish independent reports on its role in relation to the Whorlton Hall scandal. NHS England — one of the commissioners, along with local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, of learning disability inpatient care — also last month initiated a “taskforce” on the issue.

The CQC has acknowledged it needed to “strengthen” its assessments of this type of care and said it had begun to do so, and was reviewing them further “from a human rights perspective”.

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Source: HSJ, 2 December 2019

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