Psychiatric hospital praised in inspection report months after damning documentary

Kneesworth House Hospital in South Cambridgeshire 

Kneesworth House Hospital in South Cambridgeshire - Credit: Priory

Kneesworth House Hospital has received praise by Care Quality Commission inspectors for providing good quality of care, and effective services.

The Priory Group site off Old North Road provides inpatient care for people with acute mental health problems, a psychiatric intensive care unit, locked and open rehabilitation services, and medium and low secure services for those with enduring mental health problems.

The latest inspection report comes months after an ITV documentary aired in which a reporter went undercover in Clopton and Ermine wards and exposed significant failings. These included a patient - a convicted rapist - using dating sites on his phone in the grounds and a child sex offender patient trying to access inappropriate images of children.

Its unannounced, focused inspection visit to the two specialist wards took place on September 29, 2021, and the report has now been published.

The CQC confirmed the previous ratings were still to be the case. It was deemed ‘good’ for being effective, caring, responsive and well led. Safety was deemed to 'require improvement', however the site was rated as ‘good’ overall.

Clopton ward is a 12-bed medium secure service for men with a personality disorder, and Ermine ward is a 19-bed medium secure service for men with a mental illness.

Inspectors examined the quality of the ward environments, met the senior management team and hospital team and patients, and looked at a range of policies and procedures.

They said they found several areas of good practice: “Staff assessed and managed risks to patients and themselves well. Managers investigated incidents and shared lessons learned with the whole team and the wider service.

"Managers ensured staff had the right skills, qualifications and experience to meet the needs of the patients, giving new members of staff a full induction to the service before they started.

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“Staff provided a range of treatment and care for patients based on national guidance and best practice. Governance processes operated effectively at team level, and performance and risk were managed well.”

They said wards were safe, clean well equipped, well-furnished, and well maintained: “All areas including patient bedrooms were visibly clean and well maintained. Staff made sure cleaning records were up-to-date. Staff included plans to support patients with keeping bedrooms clean and tidy in their care plans."

The report stated: “The (hospital) had a clear structure for overseeing performance, quality and risk. Senior and ward managers met every morning to discuss ward issues including risks and review incident reports.

"Managers then added incidents requiring investigation to an action log until the investigations had been completed.

"The hospital had a policy on the use of mobile telephones and technology by patients and all patients’ access to technology was risk assessed. Patients with high risks had additional agreements in place for technology use developed with the local police force and social workers.

“The provider had robust processes around information technology safety, but the provider recognised that there was additional training required to ensure these were embedded in staff culture. The provider had a site improvement plan in place at the time of the inspection. The provider had also created an action plan...that included an independent review of cyber security.”

Inspectors identified some areas for improvement in relation to risk assessments and seclusion.

The report said: "Staff did not always update risk assessments following incidents, although they were recorded in the clinical notes and discussed by the multidisciplinary team" and "The seclusion room environment did not meet the requirements set out in the Mental Health Act Code of Practice"

The hospital has said these were immediately addressed by multi-disciplinary teams.

Hospital director Priscilla Masvipurwa said: “We are pleased that the hospital rating has remained good.

"We have received positive feedback from other stakeholders, and the dedicated and skilled team here has worked throughout the pandemic to ensure we offer the best, most effective patient care to a highly complex group of patients who progress well through our services as a result of our skilled staff and well thought-out care initiatives.”