An investigation is under way after a patient was “abused” under the care of Whalley-based Calderstones NHS Trust.
Health watchdog Monitor is looking into whether the Whalley-based Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust breached its licence after a safeguarding case conference identified shortcomings in the way the specialist learning disability facility safeguarded its service users.
Police investigated specific allegations of abuse earlier this year, but decided to take no further action.
Health officials at Calderstones have stressed the hospital’s “zero tolerance” policy on abuse and admitted they had been co-operating and working closely with Monitor since April.
Mr David Young, Calderstones chief executive, said: “This was an isolated issue of abuse against a single service user and it must not happen again. We are taking this absolutely seriously and giving it the highest prominence. We are being open and we are taking action.”
The investigation surrounds an incident at Scott House, near Rochdale, which is run by Calderstones and provides care for around 20 men with learning difficulties and mental health issues.
Monitor will now look into whether the episode may be evidence of wider problems with the way the Trust is run, and whether the Trust could have prevented or reduced the risk of abuse. The regulator has also written to the Care Quality Commission asking it to undertake an urgent review of standards of care at the Trust, which specialises in the treatment of adults with mental health and learning difficulties.
Robert Davidson, Regional Director at Monitor, said: “The fact that this issue was not identified by the Trust may indicate a failure in the way the Trust is working, so we have opened a formal regulatory investigation and also asked the CQC to assess the quality of care provided by the Trust as a priority.
“We want to make sure that patients are receiving the best possible standards of care, and we will look closely at how the Trust is run to determine whether it has breached the conditions of its licence to provide NHS healthcare services.”
In response, Mr Young, from Calderstones, is urging people not to forget the hard work of the staff and the positives they achieve when dealing with day-to-day difficult circumstances.
He explained: “I have worked hard since April to keep everyone informed so that there can be no doubt of the seriousness of the issue. However, I am also aware that this is a single instance and that every day, well over a thousand staff deliver a service to a very high standard for some of the most challenging people in society.
“We should never lose sigh of what those staff face and the positives they achieve. We are focussed on learning and putting things right.”
He added: “As Calderstones moves forward, we must remember that standards continue to rise and we must keep ahead of expectations at all times. We should celebrate the positives - and yes, we must learn, apologise and never underplay the negatives.”