Private mental health hospital for children and young people closes amid safety fears

PUBLISHED: 20:00 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 07:45 01 December 2017




A private Norfolk mental health hospital for children and young people has been shut down amid fears over safety.

The Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYThe Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Staff and families of patients at the Huntercombe Hospital, in Buxton, were told today (Thursday) that the hopsital - which is a low secure child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) - would close, with patients being transferred to other facilities in the first half of December.

It comes after a joint review from NHS England and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which included the CQC carrying out an inspection. The inspection report is not yet public, but a previous report released in May found the hospital inadequate for safety, and rated as requires improvement overall.

North Norfolk MP and former health minister Norman Lamb said the closure was another blow for mental health services in the county, where the NHS mental health trust was recently placed into special measures. Mr Lamb said: “There are obviously very serious concerns which have been raised about quality and safety by staff. The fact that Huntercombe are talking to staff today and closing it down means it is obviously a very serious situation.”

Mr Lamb, who said he had previously visited the unit, said he was concerned about the effect on the 170 staff and the patients.

The Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYThe Huntercombe Hospital - Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“My main concern now is these children and young people, it’s very disruptive and some of these children could be a long way from home, as far as Wales.”

At the time of the last inspection, the hospital was looking after 28 patients aged between 12 and 18. As of today, the service - for young people with long-standing, complex mental health issues - had 19 patients.

A spokesman for Huntercombe said: “The closure plan has not been arrived at easily and it is based on a combination of factors. We have been aware recently that the service was not meeting the standards that we expect to provide and whilst there have been improvements, there is still more to do to meet CQC requirements. We have agreed with NHSE and CQC that we will move all patients out of the service.”

He added: “The wellbeing of the young people in our care is our priority and we are working collaboratively with case managers from NHS England and NHS Wales to ensure that patients and their families are supported while arrangements are made for alternative care provision that is appropriate to their needs.”

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