The Care Quality Commission has published a critical report on the independent mental health provider, St Andrew’s Healthcare. The charity, which mainly operates in the Midlands, was rated “requires improvement”.
The report contained a number of concerns, including that in previous inspections records had been falsified for the CQC thus covering up allegations of poor care and abusive behaviour.
The CQC’s report, states: “Patients, staff and relatives raised concerns that management may either not be aware of or are not responding to issues including poor and selective reporting, falsifying records, intimidation of staff, and active deception of [the] CQC.”
The CQC also stated that “staff did not consistently feel confident to raise concerns without fear of reprisals. The provider had not afforded the appropriate protection to one staff member under The Protected Disclosures Act 2014.”
In November 2019, St Andrew’s was found to have unfairly dismissed a nurse after the charity discovered that they had been involved in previous whistleblowing cases at other providers and had reported concerns soon after he was employed by St Andrews. He raised concerns with trainers during his week-long induction about fellow inductees cheating on e-learning modules by screenshotting the answers.
The CQC inspectors were also shown evidence that staff who had been dismissed following abusive or threatening incidents with patients had been re-employed by St Andrews.
St Andrew’s Healthcare is one of the largest charities involved in residential mental health services. Its hospitals have received a number of critical reports in recent years. In June 2019, its Northampton hospital was rated “inadequate” by the CQC. The watchdog had found that adolescents were kept in unsafe seclusion rooms for excessive amounts of time and without beds, blankets or pillows. It was reported that some patients had been in seclusion for years and earlier in 2019 the Victoria Derbyshire programme was given footage of a teenager reaching their arm through a door hatch to enable contact with their parents during a visit to the hospital. The CQC gave St Andrew’s six months to improve this service, and if it does not the hospital’s registration will be cancelled, effectively closing the 99-bed site.
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