Norfolk private hospital under threat of closure
Ben KendallAdministrators have been called in at a Norfolk private hospital following the collapse of a major fraud investigation.About 100 staff members at psychiatric facility Cawston Park, near Aylsham, and its sister-hospital Kelling Park, near Holt, were informed of the decision late last week.Ben Kendall
Administrators have been called in at a Norfolk private hospital following the collapse of a major fraud investigation.
About 100 staff members at psychiatric facility Cawston Park, near Aylsham, and its sister-hospital Kelling Park, near Holt, were informed of the decision late last week.
Bosses issued only a brief comment yesterday to confirm the decision due to 'continuing difficulties'. Administrators will be formally appointed today.
But a former director said he now expected the company to be wound up. It is believed primary care trusts have been informed that they must find alternative accommodation for patients.
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The hospital will continue to operate as normal at present but employees have been informed that they will be made redundant within a matter of weeks.
Relatives of patients at the specialist psychiatric hospital described it as a 'sad day', adding that Cawston Park had often been able to care for patients who could not be accommodated elsewhere.
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Former chief executive Andrew Breeze, who was dismissed after being arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud as part of a Norfolk police and NHS counter fraud inquiry lasting more than two years, said the decision was a direct result of the allegations. The case collapsed earlier this year when a judge found that there was no evidence of wrong-doing.
Mr Breeze, who retains a 30pc stake in the company, said: 'The police action in November 2006, arresting the senior management team at Cawston Park hospital, based on malicious allegations by a disgruntled ex-employee, has directly led to this hospital going into administration.
'Cawston Park delivered outstanding treatment and care to those suffering from severe mental illness. The authorities, between them, have brought down this impressive facility and those responsible need to be held to account and answer the very serious question - why?
'An independent review is the only way that this can occur. Both patients and staff at the hospital deserve to get answers.'
Mr Breeze was arrested in dawn raids along with former director and ex-North Norfolk MP David Prior, finance director Dominic Wilson and one other man following allegations of a �2.5m fraud. All were cleared and Mr Breeze and Mr Wilson, who were charged with fraud, were exonerated by Ipswich Crown Court.
The hospital specialised in providing care to people with 'complex psychiatric' needs. Many of its patients are people who cannot be catered for within the NHS.
The parents of a current patient at Cawston Park said they were 'very concerned' about the medical care that would be provided in future.
A member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: 'How do you explain this to people who are crying, pleading, and questioning the reason why the place where they believed was their last chance has been unceremoniously swept from under their feet? How do you tell someone who is on the brink of suicide he or she is not worthy enough for investment?'
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is overseeing an inquiry into how the fraud investigation was conducted by Norfolk police. The Crown Prosecution Service and NHS have conducted similar inquiries but Mr Breeze has criticised these.