Mental health hospital shuts after inspectors ban new patients

Milestones Hospital

Milestones Hospital shut on Friday. - Credit: milestoneshospital.co.uk

A mental health hospital has shut after inspectors barred it from taking new patients amid a string of safety concerns.

Milestones Hospital in Catfield, which looks after female patients, closed its doors on Friday with all 47 staff made redundant.

The private hospital is used by NHS trusts, including the region’s mental health service, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT). The NSFT spent £1.3m in 2020 placing patients there and they have now been moved to other hospitals.

Dr Dan Dalton, medical director at NSFT, said: “These are vulnerable people and we will make sure they continue to get the care and support they need.”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited in January and in February stopped the hospital taking new patients.

Their concerns centered on a lack of trained staff, although staff were praised for being caring.   

“The service did not deploy enough staff with the right skills and experience to manage the level of risk,” they said.

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Inspectors also found blind spots and ligature anchor points in the ward.

One staff member said the CQC "would have to have been blind to not see the problems".

He said they were told on Monday the hospital would shut and added there was "a lot of anger" amongst staff.

"Staff were not given appropriate training and we relied on lots of agency workers," he said.

The company which runs Milestones, the Atarrah Project, is now going into liquidation and has appointed insolvency company McTear Williams & Wood who will sell the building.

They said in a statement: "The hospital team was committed to driving positive change in response to the recommendations made within the inspection process, but lower patient numbers caused financial pressures to increase."

The company's majority shareholder is Norfolk landowner Henry Cator, but the hospital was run by director John Enser. 

Liquidator Andrew McTear said: “Working with the board and the CQC we explored all the options available to keep the hospital open.

"However, the first priority was always to safeguard the interests of the patients. We sought to sell the hospital as a going concern but unfortunately that proved unsuccessful.”

Concerns were first raised by the CQC in March 2020 when they rated the hospital as “requires improvement” - the second lowest rating. However it continued to stay open and admitted new patients until this month. Up until the 2020 inspection it had been rated as "good".

It is one of several private mental health hospitals in Norfolk which have closed in recent years amid fears for patients’ safety.

The Huntercombe Hospital in Buxton shut in 2018 after a damning inspection. 

Wards at Ellingham Hospital near Attleborough were also shut in 2019 and in 2017, Mundesley Hospital was closed.

The NSFT has repeatedly promised to end its use of out of area beds and provide enough beds itself for patients. Last year it announced it would open 15 new beds at its Hellesdon site.

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