Patients with eating disorders ‘given unsafe food’ in hospital, CQC report finds

Patients at a hospital for people with eating disorders were at risk of physical and mental harm because they were given “unsafe and unacceptable” food, a watchdog has found.

Inspectors said they were also concerned about numerous ligature points at the Schoen Clinic York, and patients were not always treated with compassion or respect.

They were among a string of failings highlighted by the Care Quality Commission, which has placed the hospital into special measures and rated it inadequate.

Some patients reported that staff made insensitive comments to them, which hampered their recovery, the watchdog said, following an inspection in January.

And they did not always receive the emotional support they needed, telling inspectors they did not feel clinic managers listened to them.

But staff themselves reported feeling unable to raise concerns without fear of bullying and harassment from managers, amid signs of a “closed culture” at the hospital, the commission says.

The hospital, which is run by Newbridge Care Systems, says issues initially found were quickly addressed with corrective action taken within four weeks – work that was not reflected in the final report.

The CQC report also said:

· The clinic did not always have enough nursing and support staff to keep people safe, and risks were not assessed, managed or mitigated properly

Emergency equipment was not checked regularly

· The staff alarm system needed reviewing, which meant an emergency response could be delayed

· Food offered did not meet the complex needs of patients

· Incidents and safeguarding issues were not always reported appropriately

Brian Cranna, the CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said: “The standards of care we found were putting patients at risk, so we have taken urgent enforcement action, which means the service must improve if it’s to retain its registration.

“We found people didn’t always receive the levels of care they have a right to expect and weren’t always treated with compassion and respect.

“Individual dietary needs weren’t always considered, and people weren’t involved in the planning of their care and treatment.

“Evidence of a closed culture, where people aren’t listened to, and issues aren’t escalated appropriately, was particularly concerning.

“An environment where people feel unable to speak up or where incidents aren’t recorded is completely unacceptable.”

The report said that to the clinic’s credit, ward areas were clean and well maintained and there was enough medical cover, including a doctor available in an emergency.

The Schoen Clinic Group said it was disappointed by the rating being downgraded, and that it had worked with the CQC to take all steps required for improvement.

It said NHS England who had been supportive of its actions and was “assured that our York facility is a safe and caring environment for their patients”.

“The Schoen Clinic Group have invested significantly into this service including a facility upgrade, new systems and safety procedures, and we remain proud of our record of no serious clinical incidents,” it added.

“The issues initially raised in the report were quickly addressed with corrective action taken within four weeks, and whilst we are disappointed that this work hasn’t been reflected in the final report, we welcome the CQC to return to Schoen Clinic York at any time to allow us to demonstrate our commitment to delivering the highest possible standards of quality patient care.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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