sPatients and their families who have reported allegations of abuse in a series of Psychological health The units did not even receive responses from the regulator and NHSAnd the The Independent can reveal.
investigation by The Independent Sky News last month revealed how “systemic abuse” had gone unchecked at the hospitals it runs Huntercomb Group over a number of years.
Now more patients have come forward – bringing the total number of cases above 50 – and have shown how they tried to sound the alarm to the Health Service and the Care Quality Commission, but said they were being ignored while the abuse continued.
It can also be detected by the police Investigation into the alleged rape of a child by a staff member in 2019. A report was made to Thames Valley Police last month.
The Huntercombe group now faces legal claims from nine patients, dating back to 2003, who were treated at Maidenhead Hospital, now called Taplow Manor, in Berkshire. Allegations include the use of sedative medication as a form of control, excessive restraint, and use of inappropriate force in connection with tube feeding. There are also other allegations of sexual assaults.
Mark McGhee, of Hutcheon Law, who represents the patients, said: “With a number of clients. We have had allegations of inappropriate grooming and touching, in relation to the time of restraint by males as all clients are female.
“It’s my system. It’s been too long and what worries me is not just the hospital itself, but why nothing has been done by some other agency that was supposed to keep an eye on what’s going on. Why nothing has been done to try to prevent some of this.”
Have you been affected by these issues? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The clients are so frustrated with the bodies that put their babies in this hospital. They feel as if they are not properly monitoring or supervising what is going on. We know they had discussions and reviews relatively recently with them CQC With NHS England and others. However, despite it all, the families have not been able to see or be provided with any plan of action or what is going on.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said the new allegations were “extremely concerning” but could not confirm any action in response.
Rosina Aline Khan, Labour’s shadow mental health minister, is calling for a national review of mental health services. She said the allegations against the Huntercombe Group “show the extent of the crisis at the heart of inpatient mental health units”.
Questions about inspections
The Independent He saw numerous emails from parents sent to the CQC, local NHS trusts and NHS England, between 2018 and 2022, raising concerns about children’s care at Maidenhead Hospital, which families say have received no response.
In one email sent to the CQC, during an inspection in June 2019, a parent warned that her daughter had been able to tie a tie several times when she was supposed to be being watched by staff, but said her child was not comfortable being lifted. Her concerns about directly providing protection to inspectors in front of other patients. The mother received no response, and the unit was rated “good” by the oversight body.
Taplow Manor and Ivetsey Bank, near Stafford, have been inspected by the CQC 11 times since 2014. Although these inspections were not announced in advance, many patients said staff numbers had been temporarily increased ahead of visits.
May, who was admitted to Stafford in 2018, said: “Everything will be made to be much better cared for than during inspections, staff will speak to us in a more human and ‘nice’ way, positive quotes will be written on the board and medication will be at the correct times.” Meal support will be increased although none of this usually happens.
A patient who was on the Maidenhead unit during an examination in June this year, when its rating was upgraded from ‘unsuitable’ to ‘requiring improvement’, said staff would cover up damage to the walls with pictures and bring in new furniture.
Although both hospitals were rated “good” as of 2018, 14 patients’ allegations date back before that point.
CQC said The Independent A review of the group’s leadership and organization’s operations will take place in March, in response to allegations of poor stewardship. The regulator said that while it did not directly respond to all complaints, it did take them into account for the findings of the inspection.
Our investigation last month revealed that CQC had received more than 700 whistleblowing and protection reports on Huntercombe units, including several “sexual safety” concerns.
“It is unacceptable for any young person who needs mental health support to receive anything less than the highest standards of care,” said Chris Dzichetti, director of mental health at the organizing body. He said the CQC was grateful to those who reached out about their care to provide “vital” feedback.
Families left feeling helpless
Parents said they were pushed from ‘pillar to pillar’ when raising concerns with NHS commissioners, often being redirected to Huntercombe Group management. In one email he sees The IndependentParents raised concerns with the local NHS trust about the overuse of injected tranquilizers as a form of chemical restraint. Parents say it has not been followed up.
Another emailed NHS England’s complaint lines directly but said they had received no response. The mother has also raised a series of written concerns with the NHS Trust who sent her daughter to Maidenhead. She said, “We felt helpless, alone, like our voices had fallen into a dark well, scared, desperate. We just wanted our daughter to come home and be safe. We wanted her to get better and get some kind of treatment that would help her get better.” There are no answers.”
Nikki Broughton-Smith, whose daughter Amber was ill in 2019, said: “It’s very clear no one wants to take responsibility.
“In terms of NHS England, we didn’t even know it existed until a year after starting treatment, and then explained it on multiple occasions, both verbally and by email. [and] They didn’t try to contact us.”
Since 2015-16, the NHS has paid Huntercombe nearly £190m to allow children into its mental health beds.
After our investigation, NHS England said it had set up ‘enhanced’ monitoring of Huntercombe units. An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is deeply concerned by these appalling allegations. Consequently, these two units, which are both run by the Active Care group, have been visited several times by senior commissioners in recent weeks.”
Girls stripped naked by male staff
Among the dozens of patient reports uncovered by our investigation are allegations of young women being stripped naked by male staff. Amy, who was a patient at Maidenhead in 2020, said: “They didn’t even make sure there were female staff in the room when they undressed me tied to my underwear. There was a male staff member in the room and they took off my bra and pants and put me in my anti-garter.”
She once said that she was not allowed to leave her room for six weeks.
Another girl said, “During the restraint, there were five males and one female nurse in my room, and the male staff had to unbutton and put on my jeans and then pull my pants down while the female staff just watched.”
told Maddy, who was in Maidenhead in 2003 The Independent She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder which she believes is related to her experiences in the hospital. “It was a living hell, literally,” she said. “I actually would have rather been dead than lived as I did in that place.” When my parents signed a consent form for tube-feeding upon entry, little did they know this would involve force-feeding with extreme restraint.
“They would forcibly give me more sedative drugs while I could hardly stay awake. Men would sometimes beat me against the wall, stand up and beat my bones against the planks and I would scream in pain, but they just told me that the more I resisted, the stronger they got.”
Leila, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was a patient at Ivetsey Bank in 2018. She said she suffered from pneumonia after staff stopped her from feeding her through a tube and the tube went into her lung, rendering her semi-conscious. “I was then left in my bedroom because I was told I was being dramatic,” she said. Eventually another patient called an ambulance.
Hutcheon Law is also calling for the NHS and boards to offer ‘aftercare’ for ex-patients who have claims of PTSD and trauma from their time in hospital. A patient at Maidenhead in 2016, Rhiana Denver said she believed she had PTSD, flashbacks and mental health issues after her stay in the unit, adding: “People don’t understand what happens when you’re inside.”
Huntercombe owners Active Care Group said: “We are deeply saddened and concerned to hear about these patient experiences and allegations of poor care, a handful of which relate to the time spent in our care. All of our professionals are trained, registered and regulated by their professional bodies; our policies and clinical interventions are aligned with guidelines patriotism and best practices; taking care of our patients is our top priority.”
She said CQC visits were always unannounced, wards were “constantly” redecorated, and all complaints were investigated to the extent required by CQC, adding: “We are also pleased to receive positive feedback from so many young people and their families.”
Elli Investments Group, which owns The Huntercombe Group until March 2021, said: “We are saddened by these allegations and regret that these hospitals and specialist care services, which were independently owned and operated by The Huntercombe Group, have failed to meet expected standards of high quality care. “
Discussion about this post