A criminal investigation has been launched into the physical and emotional abuse of patients at a private hospital, police have confirmed.
The care watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), revealed on Wednesday that its inspectors had seen CCTV recordings of patients at Cygnet Health Care’s Yew Trees hospital in Essex being kicked, slapped and dragged by staff.
In a damning inspection report, the CQC said it had seen nine examples of abuse that were witnessed by other staff who did not speak up.
Essex Police on Thursday confirmed they had launched an investigation.
A spokesperson for the force said they were first informed of the abuse two months ago, relating to an incident on Sunday 19 July.
They said: “As a result of this investigation, which remains ongoing, we have voluntarily interviewed two people, obtained witness statements and have reviewed CCTV footage of the incident.
“Since an inspection by the Care Quality Commission at Yew Tree hospital, a number of other allegations have been raised and these have also been referred to our officers. Those investigations also remain ongoing.”
In its inspection report, the CQC said the female patients were subjected to “emotional and physical abuse”.
It added: “We reviewed 21 episodes of closed-circuit television footage and witnessed staff drag, slap and kick a patient. We witnessed staff shove a patient.
“We saw extremely negative interactions where staff visibly became angry with patients, threw items in the vicinity of patients and stood very close to patients with intimidating body language (arms crossed, standing over them).”
The 10-bed hospital has now been closed by Cygnet Health Care, which reported the abuse to the CQC after routine monitoring of CCTV.
The company has been repeatedly criticised by the regulator for the standards of its hospitals, with 10 rated inadequate in January, when the regulator also criticised the company’s corporate leadership.
Cygnet Health Care told The Independent it had five hospitals rated inadequate out of 140 sites across the country which are still open, and most, it added, are rated good or outstanding. It added the company was continuing to make changes to improve.