Priory St John's House, Diss
Priory St John’s House, Diss

St John’s House in Diss, Suffolk, run by Priory Group company Partnerships in Care, has been rated Inadequate after the Care Quality Commission reported some interactions between patients and staff “demonstrated elements of abuse”, HSJ has reported.

The facility is a 49-bed hospital, specialising in caring for adults with learning disabilities and associated mental health issues.

The watchdog carried out an unannounced inspection in December and ruled the hospital was failing to ensure its patients’ safety or dignity. It also spotted staff sleeping on shift on the hospitals CCTV

The CQC statement said: “[The inspection] found that risks to patient safety, dignity and wellbeing were not always well managed, and that some interactions demonstrated elements of abuse.

“Staff had physically restrained patients, when they presented a danger to themselves and others, before other methods of de-escalation had been exhausted.

“Some instances of restraint were disproportionate and used unauthorised techniques, including when a patient was pushed to the floor. This compromised patient dignity, damaged staff morale and caused physical injuries.”

In a statement Priory responded to the findings: “We do not accept this standard of care in our services and have taken immediate action to deliver improvements at St John’s House. Senior management is overseeing the implementation of a comprehensive action plan to address all issues identified in the report, and we have already seen significant improvements in training compliance, the physical environment, upholding patient dignity, incident reporting and care planning.

“We have completed the required actions for 18 of the 24 key areas identified in the report, and are on track to complete the remainder within the timeframe agreed with the CQC. The service is now fully compliant with the required infection prevention and control procedures and we are committed to delivering all required improvements as swiftly as possible. Patient safety remains our absolute priority.”

In a statement NHS England and NHS Improvement East of England said: “The CQC’s findings show an unacceptable level of care, and we are overseeing the Priory St John’s actions to ensure that rapid improvements are made to improve patient safety, care and experience. We know that Priory St John’s shares a commitment to improve and address the safety and care concerns raised.”

Last July two of Priory’s mental health hospitals were also rated Inadequate. The CQC found Priory Hospital Blandford in Dorset and Kneesworth House in Royston, Hertfordshire to be unsafe and uncaring and gave them both six months to improve or face closure.

In December, Acadia sold the Priory Group to Waterland Private Equity and a German rehab firm for £1.1 billion.

Date published: March 5, 2021

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