• Care Quality Commission rates Huntercombe Hospital Roehampton as “inadequate” and puts it in special measures
  • It is the third unit run by Huntercombe to be given the worst rating and placed in the improvement regime
  • The care quality watchdog also told Huntercombe earlier this year it had to improve its corporate governance

A private provider has had a third mental health hospital judged “inadequate” and placed in special measures by watchdog inspectors.

The Care Quality Commission rated the Huntercombe Hospital Roehampton as “inadequate” overall following an unannounced inspection in May.

It is the third mental health unit run by Huntercombe Group to be given the worst overall rating and placed into the special measures regime since mid 2016.

The group was also told in May to improve its corporate governance by the watchdog following concerns being raised about its hospitals.

The Huntercombe Roehampton mental health hospital in Wandsworth, south west London, has 39 psychiatric intensive care beds and receives referrals from across the country including from NHS trusts, which need extra beds.

The CQC gave the hospital inadequate ratings on the CQC’s safe and well led categories, and found:

  • Staff did not properly monitor patients after tranquilisers were used;
  • Staff were not always aware of where ligature points were in the facility; and
  • Staff “engaged minimally” with patients when one-one-one observations were carried out and had not taken steps to reduce violence and aggression.

The inspectors concluded: “Senior managers in the hospital did not have the skills, knowledge and experience to provide leadership of the quality required to maintain safe and effective care.

“Ward managers could not explain how they maintained quality and ensured that care met fundamental standards.”

CQC deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health Paul Lelliott said unless the hospital made improvements within six months the watchdog will take further action.

Dr Lelliott added: “We found some serious breaches of regulations at Huntercombe Hospital.

“Unless the provider has made sufficient improvements within six months, we will begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service.”

Huntercombe Hospital Stafford was rated “inadequate” and placed in special measures by the CQC in August 2016, after a member of staff raised “serious concerns” about patient safety. But the children’s hospital has since been re-inspected, upgraded to “requires improvement” and taken out of special measures.

The watchdog also rated Huntercombe’s Watcombe Hall specialist child and adolescent mental health hospital in Torquay “inadequate” and placed it in special measures in July last year. The ranking followed inspectors closing the unit to new admissions on the second day of the inspection and it closed in August 2017.

The CQC also told Huntercombe Group in May it must improve its corporate governance following a leadership review.

About 85 per cent of Huntercombe’s services are commissioned by clinical commissioning groups and NHS England, with the other 15 per cent commissioned by local authorities.

In a statement, the Huntercombe Group said it had replaced the door hinges which were potential ligature points, improved monitoring of patients who had been given tranquilisers and appointed a new director to run an improvement programme.

The programme is being run by the new director of nursing and assurance Philip King.

A spokesman said 68 per cent of the group’s 25 registered hospitals and specialist care centres were rated “outstanding” or “good”.

He added: “We take seriously our responsibilities as a care provider and regret that the hospital had fallen below the standards we expect of ourselves.

“We recognised the concerns identified when the CQC inspected the service at the beginning of May, although they also found examples of good practice and positive patient feedback.

“Since then, we have been carrying out a programme of improvements and we are in regular contact with the CQC to provide evidence of our progress.”