CQC takes action at Cygnet mental health service

Care inspectors have identified risks to patient safety at a Cygnet mental health hospital in Durham.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found Cygnet Appletree, a 26-bed hospital for women, did not have effective to ensure patient safety.

All ligature risks and blind spots on the ward were not identified in risk assessments, and staff did not have a full understanding of how to mitigate these.

Staff did not follow the hospital processes and policies in recording patient risk, resulting in people being exposed to harm, the regulator said.

Inspectors also found the service did not have robust systems to ensure staff were complying to safe practice.

The CQC did not re-rate Cygnet Appletree, which had people detained under the Mental Health Act requiring acute and psychiatric intensive care, because the service type had changed since its previous visit in August 2019.

The findings related to Pippin Ward, which had nine residents at the time of the inspection.

Following the inspection, the watchdog told the provider it must ensure all clinical staff have completed immediate life support training, and that staff must follow policies and procedures to monitor patients’ physical health, and ensure that referrals to specialists are made when needed.

Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: ‘A lack of oversight from managers and a failure to implement Cygnet’s own policies was behind many of the shortcomings. This included failing to identify and learn from incidents where patients had been exposed to the risk of harm, and ensuring staff had the right training.

‘We were also concerned that staff were not always compliant with guidance to protect people from Covid-19.

‘Following the inspection, we used our enforcement powers to ensure patient safety.’

A spokesperson for Cygnet Appletree said none of the patients had tested positive for Covid-19, adding: ‘Since the inspection three months ago, all of the CQC’s concerns have been addressed, and we are pleased to say that the CQC has confirmed they will agree to vary the restrictions so that we are able to admit patients and return to a full service on Pippin Ward.

‘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.’