• Investigation concerns hospital which opened in October
  • Safeguarding alerts relate to 15-bed psychiatric intensive care unit used by NHS patients
  • HSJ understands CQC due to publish report on hospital shortly

A multi-agency investigation has been launched at a psychiatric unit after a “disproportionate” number of safeguarding alerts for patient-on-patient attacks.

Governing body papers for a West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group meeting in May revealed the 65-bed Cygnet Hospital in Maidstone, which opened in October 2018, had seen a “disproportionate” number of safeguarding alerts for patient-on-patient assaults in April.

The alerts concerned the hospital’s 15-bed male psychiatric intensive care unit, which is for men detained under the Mental Health Act and used by NHS patients. The papers did not specify the number of alerts. 

The Care Quality Commission, which HSJ understands is due to publish a report on the hospital shortly, confirmed it was aware of concerns. “The CQC has inspected the service on 19 March and taken part with other stakeholders in a number of multi-agency meetings. We will report our findings and any action required from these inspections in due course,” said head of hospital inspection Pauline Carpenter.

Kent County Council is now leading a multi-agency safeguarding investigation. A spokesman said it was “working closely with NHS partners, Kent Police and Cygnet Health Care to ensure the safety of patients within the unit”.

A West Kent CCG statement said: “The CCG takes quality concerns raised with any of the services we commission with the highest priority and has requested that Cygnet provides a plan of how it is addressing the concerns raised by the level of incidents in April and how any learning identified through the inquiry is addressed. We will be reporting back at a future meeting of the CCG’s governing body.”

The CCG’s quality paper added that a voluntary halt to admissions had been requested but Cygnet Health Care said the ward remained open to admissions.

A Cygnet spokesman said: “In the normal running of a hospital such as this, we will have regular meetings with various agencies, including the local CCG and safeguarding, to review matters and any issues that arise, with the next meeting scheduled for June.

“We do not know the outcome of this meeting, but as far as we are aware the issues to be discussed are not of an order that would require us to close the ward to new admissions.

“The ward remains open and we have continued to admit using the same referral and admissions procedures used on a daily basis, which is based on the assessment of the ward. Such decisions are carefully considered and made by a multi-disciplinary team, with patient welfare our top priority.”