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Sevenoaks: Damning report highlights mental health hospital's inadequacies

The Care Quality Commission has published a damning report after a string of inspections revealed a mental health hospital ignored guidance on same-sex accommodation.

A series of unannounced and announced inspections at Cygnet Hospital, in Sevenoaks, found young people’s medicine were not always available.

It was also found medicines were changed without an individual assessment being carried out.

Cygnet Hospital was the subject of a number of inspections.
Cygnet Hospital was the subject of a number of inspections.

Natasha Sloman, Head of Hospital Inspection, said: “This is a disappointing report and I was concerned to read about the hospitals systems for checking risk, on-going assessment of health care needs, restraint, rapid tranquilisation and prescribing medicines.

“We took enforcement action against the provider and put a restriction on admissions to Knole ward to make certain young people were not exposed to the risk of harm.”

The hospital did not comply with the Department of Health guidance on same-sex accommodation on Knole ward.

Although young people’s bedrooms had en-suite toilet and shower facilities, the ward did not have separated sleeping arrangements in place for males and females and lacked a female only lounge.

Young people’s medicines were changed without an individual assessment carried out and decisions to change medicines were not based on clinical need. Inspectors judged this to be restrictive practice to suit the needs of the service.

The inspections also revealed where specific medicines were not available, appropriate action was not taken by staff to prevent the risks associated with not taking the medicine prescribed.

They also found staff did not always operate within the service provider’s policy and Mental Health Act Code of Practice to ensure young people were appropriately safeguarded when placed in seclusion or long-term segregation.

Mrs Sloman said: "During our inspection in September, we were able to see the provider had put systems in place to reduce the risks to young people and we lifted a previously imposed restriction on admissions to Knole ward.

“We did however, take further enforcement action and issued a warning notice in relation to seclusion and segregation, which we were concerned was used to control and contain young people in the absence of other approaches. We will follow this outstanding issue up at a future inspection.

“While leadership have provided assurances to us that it now has oversight of the issues and are making the improvements necessary, we will continue to monitor and inspect the hospital to ensure the changes put in place are further embedded."

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