A PRIVATE hospital for people with severe learning difficulties and mental health problems has been placed into special measures after a damning report from the healthcare watchdog.

Cygnet Hospital, in Boxted Road, Colchester, has been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission following an inspection in April.

The report found there were “significant risks to patients’ safety” at the hospital due to a lack of permanent staff who knew clients’ needs.

Between January and March inspectors found there were 70 occasions when there were not enough nurses on shift, including incidents when there was a lack of female staff to observe patients.

The provider also did not “adequately check agency staff to ensure they were safe to work with vulnerable patients”.

Out of 50 agency staff records on file, 21 or 42 per cent, did not say whether they had current DBS checks.

Inspectors also found the provider had not taken action to ensure incidents at the hospital were thoroughly investigated.

The report states: “We checked a sample of 44 incident investigation reports.

“The provider had not ensured that the terms of investigation were clear or showed that the staff member had adequate training to completing the effectively investigate.

“The provider was not checking investigation reports identified adequate actions or were completed to reduce the risk of reoccurance.”

A backlog of 33 incidents which required investigation were found. Issues with the management of medication were also identified at the hospital and staff training was an area of concern.

Cygnet Hospital, run by Cygnet Health Care, was rated requires improvement by the CQC at a previous inspection in November.

READ MORE: Colchester's Cygnet Hospital rated 'requires improvement' by CQC

A spokesman said: “Last year we took a number of steps to address the issues raised, including updating the employee training programme and putting a refurbishment plan in place.

“We note the additional issues raised in the CQC’s most recent report and we have developed a comprehensive action plan to immediately address these concerns.

“As part of this improvement programme, we are reviewing our governance arrangements to ensure a robust incident management process that fosters learning of lessons for all staff.

“We will also be reviewing our staffing arrangements and are working hard to eliminate the use of temporary workers.

“We are determined to act on the recommendations of the CQC and will continue to work with them to improve this service and bring it up to the high standards our service users expect and deserve.” 

The hospital will be inspected within six months and if improvements have not been made it could be prevented from operating.