CQC takes action at Essex mental health service

Published: 23 September 2020 Page last updated: 23 September 2020

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken action following the identification of physical and emotional abuse of patients using an Essex mental health hospital.

CQC inspected Cygnet Yew Trees, Kirby-le-Soken, on 24 and 30 July, and on 4 August 2020. There were eight people using the service at the time of inspection, although there are now no people resident at the service.

The unannounced inspection was prompted by allegations of patient abuse, raised with CQC by Cygnet.

Concerns were substantiated when inspectors reviewed closed-circuit television recordings, which revealed some staff had physically and emotionally abused patients. Footage also showed some staff had acted disrespectfully towards people in their care, intimidating them through aggressive behaviour and violating their human rights.

In response, Cygnet’s leadership has suspended staff, made referrals to the police and offered psychological support to patients who experienced abuse. No people are currently receiving treatment at the hospital.

Full details of regulatory action CQC may take will be published as soon as legal restrictions permit.

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, Dr Kevin Cleary, said:

“Our latest inspection of Cygnet Yew Trees revealed that people who lived there were being subjected not only to poor care, but to abuse.

“Some staff who had witnessed this abuse did not escalate it. Although they may have feared the consequences of speaking out against colleagues who had abused patients, their failure to act perpetuated abuse and allowed a culture of poor care to become established.

“Cygnet’s leadership has made efforts to address the harm people experienced while in its care, including suspending staff and making police referrals. This does not change or excuse the fact that a culture was allowed to develop at this hospital which led to people suffering abuse.

“Any enforcement action we may take will be published as soon as legal restrictions allow.”

Cygnet Yew Trees is a 10-bed hospital which cares for women over the age of 18 living with learning disabilities and mental health needs. It is rated Inadequate by CQC and subject to enforcement action.

A link to the embargoed inspection report is at the very end of this email. The report will be published on CQC’s website tomorrow here: www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-519903751

Although CQC suspended its routine inspections in March 2020 to support care providers to deliver safe care during Covid-19 pandemic, inspections are still taking place where there is evidence suggesting people may be at risk of harm.

CQC continues to collect insight and intelligence about services from its data sources – including providers, healthcare staff, stakeholders, and the public – and it is working closely with its partners to ensure additional support is in place where needed. If there is evidence that people are at immediate risk of harm, CQC is taking action to ensure that people are safe.

People can give feedback to CQC via the details below:

  • Telephone - 03000 616161
  • Give feedback on care webform (www.cqc.org.uk/give-feedback-on-care)

Links to the embargoed inspection reports are at the very end of this email. They will be published on CQC’s website tomorrow (Thursday) here


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For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

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.