Extremely concerning incidents reported in Kneesworth House Hospital documentary
- Credit: Archant
A documentary on national television has shone a light on Kneesworth House Hospital and shocking incidents taking place there - after a reporter went undercover in the facility for four months.
Secure Hospital Uncovered (Exposure) on ITV featured the medium secure hospital - for mental health patients, mostly convicted criminals - based off Old North Road in Kneesworth.
Reporter Carlo Lavarini went undercover as a mental health support worker at the site, run by the Priory Group.
It was put in special measures by the Care Quality Commission in 2019. At the time, the report cited the hospital was 'inadequate' and there were safeguarding problems and safety concerns.
It was then was rated 'good' by inspectors when they returned in late 2020, although safety still 'required improvement', according to the report.
While Carlo filmed covertly, there were many concerning incidents captured on his hidden camera.
The documentary showed a patient - a convicted rapist - using his phone while on grounds leave. It emerged he was using dating websites.
A staff member said: "He's not using online now to lure victims, so we don't need to check unless someone complains in the community."
Although staff permitted him to use his phone within the grounds, they only learned of him using dating sites when he told them about it.
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Access to some devices is allowed as part of rehabilitation. Patients' access to dating websites requires hospital approval, which, in this instance, was not obtained.
And the documentary showed him out with a member of staff in Royston town centre for his weekly supervised trip out, the day after he admitted going on the dating sites.
The film claimed that responsibility for these patients, who are there because they were sentenced by the courts, lies with the Ministry of Justice - who must be informed of behavioural changes making them more of a risk.
It was said he should have had any leave suspended. But the MoJ was not contacted until five months later - when the site received information about the documentary.
There were other incidents of patients accessing dating sites or attempting to access inappropriate material.
A patient, a convicted child sex offender, tried to access inappropriate images of children via a smart TV during a period in December where he was able to use WiFi, but it didn't come to light until the following April.
Police later found no evidence a criminal offence had been committed in using a smart TV.
Another child sex offender patient used dating sites, and one clip shows that they listed their area as 'Royston'.
While reflecting on his role dealing with these patients, and how ill-equipped he feels, reporter Carlo said: "We're dealing with people who are some of the most dangerous in society, the airlock opens, we're thrown in and it's closed behind us."
Priory Group said in the documentary that the programme misrepresents the hospital overall.
A Priory spokesperson said: “Kneesworth Hospital is rated 'good' by the CQC and takes the safety of the public, and welfare of patients and staff, extremely seriously.
"We have carried out a comprehensive investigation and are working closely with the police, Ministry of Justice, NHS, and CQC who are fully aware of these matters. Though the wards do not have access to WiFi, we’ve appointed independent experts to review our IT security policies and procedures.
"Priory provides high standards of care, with nearly 90 per cent of its facilities rated ‘good’ or better by UK regulators.”
The CQC's website says: "We are carrying out a review of quality at Kneesworth House. We will publish a report when our review is complete."
Secure Hospital Uncovered (Exposure) is available to watch on ITV Hub.