CQC publishes report on Staffordshire mental health hospital, after requiring its closure

Published: 11 August 2021 Page last updated: 11 August 2021

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a report detailing the reasons behind its decision to close a hospital near Market Drayton for people with a learning disability and autistic people — after it found people using the service were at sustained risk of harm.

CQC inspected Eldertree Lodge in Ashley, run by Coveberry Limited, in May and June to determine whether the service had addressed failings it highlighted following an inspection in March. Following the previous inspection, the hospital was rated inadequate, required to provide regular progress reports to CQC and barred from admitting new patients.

The latest inspection found the failings had not been addressed and people continued to receive unsafe care. There were also instances where people had been subjected to abuse.

Due to the continued serious issues, CQC rated the hospital inadequate for a second time.

CQC also removed Coveberry’s registration to provide inpatient treatment and high-dependency rehabilitation services at Eldertree Lodge. All services providing regulated healthcare need CQC registration for the patient group they serve to provide a lawful service, so this action led to the hospital’s closure.

Debbie Ivanova, CQC deputy chief inspector for people with a learning disability and autistic people, said:

“After our March inspection found people were at risk of harm at Eldertree Lodge, we supported Coveberry Limited to help it improve the care it provided its patients by identifying areas it urgently needed to address. “Disappointingly, progress was not made.

“Our subsequent inspection, in May and June, found people continued to receive unsafe care.

“In some cases, people were subjected to abuse and interactions that lacked compassion, dignity or respect. This is unacceptable and people deserved better.

Additionally, the environment was unhygienic and poorly maintained, as well as blighted by blind spots which undermined staff observation of patients.

“The lack of progress between the two inspections did not assure us Coveberry could deliver the change it desperately needed to make at Eldertree Lodge. Consequently, we took action to close the hospital.

“Closing a service is a last resort, but we do not hesitate to act proportionally when people are at risk of harm or receiving poor care.”

CQC’s latest inspection of Eldertree Lodge found the hospital did not ensure its patients safety. This included failing to act to protect those at risk of self-harming, ensure a safe and clean environment or adequately monitor the quality of care people received.

Inspectors also found the hospital was short-staffed and did not engage well with external agencies. This contributed to its failure to capture detail following patient safety incidents to address entrenched problems.

The hospital’s issues stemmed from its leaders’ lack of oversight to understand its shortcomings and inform their efforts to make improvements.

Many of these issues mirrored those reported to Coveberry by CQC after its previous inspection of Eldertree Lodge. Despite the benefit that information offered, the latest inspection found the hospital’s leaders had not improved the service to ensure it met standards to which people are entitled.

As Coveberry could not evidence adequate improvement at Eldertree Lodge or substantive plans to drive change, CQC closed the hospital. All patients were supported to transfer to other services by the end of June.

CQC’s action to close the service was not publishable until now as Coveberry was entitled to a statutory period during which it had the right to appeal. No appeal was lodged.

Full details of the inspection are given in the report published on our website.

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About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.