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Investigation launched into Maidstone Cygnet Hospital psychiatric ward after patient assaults

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A hospital for those with mental health problems who pose a risk to themselves or others is under investigation after a report revealed a "disproportionate" number of patient on patient assaults.

Cygnet Hospital, on the Kent Medical Campus off Bearsted Road, Weavering, houses adults with severe mental illness.

According to Cygnet's website, the medical centre's psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) cares for patients with "a forensic history" - meaning they have criminal backgrounds or were referred by the criminal justice system.

Cygnet hospital courtyard
Cygnet hospital courtyard

Those in the hospital's care are detained under the Mental Health Act and have a wide range of conditions which may mean they pose a risk to others.

In the latest report by the West Kent Commissioning Group, inspectors revealed "a disproportionate number of safeguarding alerts were raised for male PICU for patient on patient assaults."

The report highlighted that "voluntary cessation of admissions has been requested whilst the enquiry takes place."

However, a spokesman for the healthcare provider said: "The ward remains open and we have continued to admit using the same referral and admissions procedures used on a daily basis, which is based on the assessment of the ward.

"Such decisions are carefully considered and made by a multi-disciplinary team, with patient welfare our top priority.

"A disproportionate number of safeguarding alerts were raised for male PICU for patient on patient assaults."

“In the normal running of a hospital such as this, we will have regular meetings with various agencies, including the local CCG and Safeguarding, to review matters and any issues that arise, with the next meeting scheduled for June.

"We do not know the outcome of this meeting, but as far as we are aware the issues to be discussed are not of an order that would require us to close the ward to new admissions."

A spokesperson for Kent County Council (KCC) said: "A safeguarding investigation is currently underway and KCC is working closely with NHS partners, Kent Police, and Cygnet Healthcare to ensure the safety of patients within the unit."

The low security hospital, which opened in October, sits on the edge of the Kent Medical Campus - a stones throw from a site earmarked for two new schools at Popes Field.

Plans for the schools were given the green light by Maidstone Borough Council in April but have been opposed by residents and councillors as well as MP Helen Whately.

Val Springtt Cllr for Bearsted Ward (11638100)
Val Springtt Cllr for Bearsted Ward (11638100)

Cllr Val Springett, representing Bearsted, said: "We have no concerns about the hospital being there. These sorts of facilities need to exist but I don't think it's a good idea to put a primary school or a special needs school next door.

"Some of the patients will be out and about because I understand that part of their care is integration into the community. I'm aware that similar facilities have gone out and not returned for four days.

"I'm sure every care will be taken I just think that opportunity is there for an issue to occur. Whatever precautions are taken there is always a chance an incident can happen.

"The is a potential for an incident to occur and it is worrying."

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