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Two Priory Group hospitals placed in special measures

The Care Quality Commission has placed two hospitals run by the Priory Group in special measures in a fresh controversy over state-funded private contractors’ treatment of people with mental illness or learning disabilities.

The two hospitals – Priory Hospital Blandford in Dorset and Kneesworth House in Royston, Hertfordshire – were found by the CQC to be unsafe and uncaring and rated them both as inadequate. The hospitals have been given up to six months to show improvement or face closure.

Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC lead for mental health, said: “If urgent improvements are not made to ensure people are safe, we will take action to prevent the provider from operating these services.”

Earlier this year, the Priory, which is owned by Acadia, a US chain of clinics, had to close its  hospital in High Wycombe after it failed an inspection and it was fined £300,000 over the death of a 14-year-old girl at a fourth unit in East Sussex.

At the Blandford hospital, which caters for children and young people with learning disabilities or autism as well as a mental health disorders, the CQC inspectors found a high level of violence among patients and assaults on staff. Bricks and nails were used as weapons, patients felt unsafe and staff appeared unable to cope, resorting frequently to physical restraint, it said.

Full story in The Guardian, 30 July 2019


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