Ellingham Hospital: Children’s mental health wards to close


Inspectors have raised concerns at Ellingham Hospital in Norfolk over safety due a lack of staff. …

Ellingham Hospital
Image caption Health inspectors had concerns for the safety of patients at Ellingham Hospital

Two children’s wards at a private mental health hospital are to close amid concerns over a lack of staff and the “safety and welfare” of patients.

Issues with staffing at Ellingham Hospital near Attleborough, Norfolk, were raised by inspectors in June and again this month.

Following those inspections the Cherry Oak ward and Woodlands ward will close.

The hospital said it found it “extremely challenging to recruit and retain permanent staff”.

Ellingham Hospital is run by the Priory Group and provides 20 beds for young people aged 12 and over.

Concerns had been raised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year.

The CQC found the hospital was hiring too many agency staff and workers with no specialist training for children, and some staff felt “burnt out”.

In June, the hospital suspended admissions to both Woodlands and Cherry Oak wards, and it said it “subsequently decided to close Cherry Oak ward”.

The CQC inspected again eight days ago and said it was “taking action to protect the safety and welfare of the young people”. The hospital then took the decision to close Woodlands ward.

Image caption A CQC inspection earlier this year led the hospital to suspend admissions to two wards

Following the closures, eight patients will be moved.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “We are working with Priory Group to secure alternative placements for the eight patients affected.” 

The Priory Group said: “The safety of those entrusted to us is paramount, and all issues raised with us are taken extremely seriously.”

It said that there was “a nationwide shortage of nurses” and it was “extremely challenging to recruit and retain permanent staff”.

Earlier this year The Priory Group was fined £300,000 over the death of a child at one of its hospitals in Sussex in 2012.

Also this year, one of its hospitals suspended admissions, another was rated “inadequate”, and its hospital in High Wycombe closed.

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