Health watchdog condemns hospital where three patients died

Tugay Akman, chief executive of Jessal group,

Tugay Akman, chief executive of Jeesal group, pictured in front of Cawston Park hospital, near Aylsham. - Credit: Colin Finch

A final damning report into a now-closed Norfolk hospital is about to be released.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said Cawston Park hospital, near Aylsham, had a "long history of poor performance", was understaffed and its patients "did not always receive kind and compassionate care."

But Tugay Akman, owner of the Dereham-based Jessal Group, which ran the hospital for people with learning disabilities, said he did not agree with the CQC's findings

Cawston Park. Picture: EDP Library/submitted

Cawston Park. Picture: EDP Library/submitted

Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: “When inspectors re-visited Jeesal Cawston Park, it was clear that service leaders were unable to make the necessary improvements vital to providing the appropriate care for the vulnerable people at the hospital.
“We expect health and social care providers to guarantee autistic people and people with a learning disability the choices, dignity, independence and good access to local communities that most people take for granted. 
“Leaders at Jeesal Cawston Park had failed to ensure the service improved despite continuous interventions by CQC. 
“The service has a long history of poor performance and has been in special measures since 2019 with CQC using its civil enforcement powers due consistent failures in meeting standards." 

Cawston Manor

Cawston Park Hospital from above. - Credit: Mike Page

But Mr Akman said he felt the hospital had not been dealt with fairly by the CQC. 

He said: "In one report they said staff morale was low due to leadership, but if morale was low it was because they had to put up with repeated inspections.

"You don't get to say you feel bad for someone who has been shot if you are the one who shot that person.

"As far as I'm concerned we spared no cash, we had the best doctors on site, staffing numbers were always high, but that's all we can do."

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In the five years before the hospital closed on May 12 three of its patient died.

At an inquest following the death of patient Joanna Bailey, 36, in 2018,  concerns were raised over staff shortages, training and procedures.

Another patient, Nicholas Briant, 33, died after swallowing a piece of plastic cup in 2018, and the CQC later banned the hospital from taking on any more patients

An inquest into the death of a third patient is due to take place June. 

Mr Akman said any death was regrettable. 

Cawston Park's assets including equipment and vehicles and its debts, are now being sold off by the liquidators Insolve Plus.

The future of the hospital site itself, including the former Cawston Manor buildings, are owned separately by Jeesal's holding company, and it is unclear what its future will hold.

The site has a varied history, having been built as a manor house in 1897 and later becoming a convalescent home for returning soldiers, a college for boys and a centre for psychic science and spiritual healing.

Mr Tugay said its patients had all been moved to other hospitals or were being cared for in homes. He said the hospital's 120 staff had hall found new jobs, and some were continuing to care for former Cawston Park patients in new settings. 

The final CQC report into Cawston Park will be released on Friday, May 28.

Other concerns inspectors had over the service included:

•The service did not have enough appropriately skilled staff to meet people’s needs and keep them safe. There were also issues with ligature risk assessments containing inaccurate information.

• Staff did not always monitor the effect of medicines on people’s physical health, medicines records were incomplete, and staff did not always follow prescribing instructions.

• The service did not support people through recognised models of care and treatment for people with a learning disability or autistic people.

• The service did not have all the specialists required to be able to provide effective care and treatment and meet people’s needs.