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Care group boss quits after claims young patients treated ‘worse than animals’

todayAugust 12, 2023 7

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Care group boss quits after claims young patients treated ‘worse than animals’

The boss of a care group whose units were accused of treating young mental health patients “worse than animals” has quit.

The Active Care Group facilities faced repeated claims of over-restraint and inadequate staffing, which youngsters say left people at increased risk of self-harm.

Dozens of patients came forward last year to detail their experiences at the NHS-funded units.

Patients described being left in rooms with blood on the walls and accused staff of failing to prevent them from hurting themselves.

The mother of one girl said patients were “treated worse than animals” and claimed many were subjected to “clear trauma, pain and suffering”. The allegations stretch back more than a decade.

The units were run by the Huntercombe Group – part of Active Care Group since December 2021 – and its chief executive has now quit less than eight months after the allegations were made public.

“Dr Sylvia Tang has left Active Care Group to pursue a plural career and Keith Browner has been appointed as chief executive officer,” said a company statement.

Dr Tang had been the chief executive since June 2020 – a year and a half before the merger.

After the initial Sky News and The Independent investigation in October 2022, 30 more patients came forward.

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December 2022: Patients of mental health units tell their story

They included a 16-year-old boy whose mother said her son’s self-harming had increased.

Rachel Vickers said her son Tyson “looked like he’d been in a car crash” after spending two months in a unit in Maidenhead.

‘Bandages and huge black eye’

Tyson said he went in because “I couldn’t keep myself safe” but did not get the specialist intervention he was expecting.

“I could see that he was getting a lot worse,” his mother told Sky News in December.

“We were seeing much more self-harm – erratic behaviour that was leading to him needing to be restrained, which we hadn’t had to do at home. It was dawning on me that he wasn’t being looked after.

“He had cuts on his arms. He was bandaged up on both arms. He had a huge black eye. I mean, he looked like he’d been in a car crash.”

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January: ‘Staff shortages’ put patients in care ‘at risk’

Another patient, admitted to the Maidenhead unit [known as Taplow Manor] in 2020, shared photos of injuries to her legs and knuckles which she said were sustained during restraints.

Two former employees told Sky News in January they believed inadequate staffing and training put young people at risk.

“There were a lot of incidents that could have been avoided,” said Callum Smith.

“There are a lot of patients who maybe caused significant harm to themselves, which could have been avoided had we had more staff.”

Read more:
‘Blood on the walls’ – Shocking truth of life in kids’ mental health unit

The Active Care Group previously said the employees’ testimony amounted to “unconfirmed accusations” and that neither had worked at the unit for a year.

It said staffing levels were monitored daily, with a full complement of professionals on hand.

However, after being threatened with closure by the Care Quality Commission if it did not improve, Active Care Group revealed in March that Taplow Manor would shut by the end of May.

It said a decision by the NHS to stop admitting patients had rendered its “service untenable”.

Police have also been investigating the death of a patient at the hospital, as well as an allegation of a child rape involving staff.

Written by: Newsroom

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