The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised concerns about the treatment of patients at mental health units run by Cygnet. It follows inspections in the wake of a BBC Panorama investigation about alleged abuse at Wharlton Hall in County Durham.
The CQC found that patients under the firm's care were more likely to be restrained. Higher rates of self-harm were also noted by inspectors who quizzed managers and analysed records at the company's headquarters.
The regulator also found a lack of clear lines of accountability between the executive team and its services. It said directors' identity and disclosure and barring service checks had been carried out, butd that required checks had not been made to ensure that directors and board members met the "fit and proper" person test for their roles.
Systems used to manage risk were also criticised, while training for intermediate life support was not provided to all relevant staff across services where physical intervention or rapid tranquilisation was used.
Cygnet runs more than 100 services for vulnerable adults and children, caring for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and eating disorders.
The CQC says Cygnet must now take immediate action to address the concerns raised.
Cygnet said a number of the services highlighted have since been improved, but "we are not complacent and take on board recommendations where we must improve".
Source: BBC News, 14 January 2020