Mental health patients cared for in ‘unacceptable environment’ in hospital – CQC

Ted Hennessey, PA
·3-min read

Patients at a mental health hospital in Nottinghamshire are being cared for in an “unacceptable environment” with inspectors discovering human waste and blood on its floors and walls, the care regulator has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated Priory Hospital, in Arnold, inadequate and placed it in special measures following an inspection in March.

It comes after information from anonymous sources reported uncleanliness and gaps in patient safety measures at the independent hospital, which cares for adults with chronic mental health needs.

Inspectors discovered human waste, blood and dried food on floors and walls, dirty toilets and a bag of urine, which had been left for several days.

There were also ligature risks in patient areas, and the CQC said this danger was heightened by problems with the alarm system used to alert staff to emergencies.

Wards were found to be unclean and ill-equipped, staff did not always follow the correct procedures and risks to the patients’ safety were not always assessed, a report on the hospital said.

The CQC said these issues were down to a lack of oversight from leaders, and a reliance on agency staff who did not know the service’s patients.

Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: “Standards of cleanliness at Priory Hospital Arnold were well below what people should be able to expect, and the unacceptable environment presented risks to both patients and staff.

“I am also concerned that although we had previously raised ligature risks with the hospital’s leaders, they had not comprehensively acted to protect patients at risk of self-harming.

“However, I am pleased that the service began addressing inspectors’ hygiene concerns before the inspection concluded, and staff should be commended for reducing the use of restraint.

“We are monitoring the hospital closely and will take further action to protect people if we are not assured care is being delivered safely.”

The CQC said if there is insufficient improvement, it will use its enforcement powers to protect patients from the risk of harm and hold the hospital leaders to account.

It called for the hospital to make several improvements, including ensuring all required staff training is undertaken and that wards and equipment are kept clean and well maintained.

A hospital spokesman said: “A significant amount of work has taken place since the CQC visited in March to improve procedures, governance, and staff training, so we deliver consistently high-quality, safe care.

“This work has been overseen by a new hospital director and senior management, and we already have a significantly improved environment for our patients. We provided assurance to the CQC that effective and rigorous systems around safety, hygiene, and infection control are in place.

“Our detailed action plans have been shared regularly with both the CQC and local commissioning organisations and positive feedback from both demonstrate that progress has and will continue to be made, and that the hospital is responding quickly and positively to addressing the issues.”