• Harriet Tubman House is first private mental health hospital to go into special measures
  • CQC found patients who were not detained under the Mental Health Act were not allowed to leave the facility when they wanted
  • Staff had not received training on restraint

PERFORMANCE: A private mental health hospital has been placed in special measures after inspectors found serious lapses in care, including the deprivation of patients’ liberty without legal safeguards.

The Care Quality Commission said staff at Harriet Tubman House in Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, were “failing to protect patients from harm”. It has rated the hospital “inadequate”.

Mental health

Mental health

The hospital provides rehabilitation services for women with long term mental illness

The hospital, operated by independent provider Options for Care, provides rehabilitation services for up to 15 women with serious long term mental illnesses.

Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group had placed patients in the hospital.

The patients have been transferred to other care facilities since the inspection in August. All new admissions to the hospital have been suspended since June 2015.

Inspectors found that patients who were not detained under the Mental Health Act were not allowed to leave the facility when they wanted.

Staff were also found to have a poor understanding of the legislation, and failed to recognise that these patients were being deprived of their liberty with no legal safeguards in place.

In some cases it was found that “inappropriate” applications were made to deprive patients of their liberty.

Inspectors discovered four vacancies for registered nurses out of a hospital establishment of eight.

Although agency and bank nurses were called on to cover vacancies, they did not receive a “comprehensive” induction to ensure they knew how to keep patients safe.

The CQC said the hospital’s manager and operations director were not aware of the regulations they had to meet to ensure safe patient services. It has also expressed concerns that although records show that restraint was used on patients, staff had not received training in the use of restraint.

Inspectors found no evidence of discharge planning in any of the patients’ care, with one patient found to have been living at the site for 15 years.

Psychological therapies were not offered to patients to promote their recovery, it was also found.

CQC mental health lead, and deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Paul Lelliot said: “Although Harriet Tubman House is supposed to provide a rehabilitation service, we found that this hospital was failing to protect its patients from the risk of harm.

“Staff did not analyse incidents so they could learn from them. Care plans and risk assessments did not show staff how to support patients.

“The hospital environment did not promote patients’ recovery and some staff did not engage with patients in a way which would promote their wellbeing.

“At the time of our inspection we made sure that Options for Care took action to address our immediate concerns. We have placed the hospital into special measures and we now expect Options for Care to meet all the legal requirements which are there to protect people in its care.”

A spokeswoman for the company said: “Ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of the people who use our services is always our utmost priority.

“We have been working with the CQC since their inspection in August. Since then we have taken several measures to improve the care and service we provide and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate these improvements at the next inspection.”