A PRIVATE hospital for people with learning difficulties and mental health problems has been blasted by a watchdog after it found patient safety was "not a sufficient priority".

Cygnet Hospital, in Boxted Road, Colchester, was rated as requires improvement by the Care Quality Commission after a two-day inspection in November.

Inspectors said safety at the hospital was "inadequate" and found several issues with the premises, including finding wires handing from one patients' toilet ceiling.

Several items which represented "ligature risks" were also identified on the individual wards.

The report states: "There was little evidence of learning from events or action taken to improve safety.

"Managers did not complete investigations on incident forms to demonstrate how they had reviewed the incident and taken actions to reduce the risk of reoccurance.

"Staff had not completed incident investigations on 25 incident forms we reviewed on Flower Adams wards and Ramsey ward and 12 incident forms from Oak and Larch court."

Some employees at the hospital said they did not feel "adequately trained" to meet the specific needs of certain patients.

The report continued: "Staff across all wards said moving away from a learning disability service to a service with wards for people with a personality disorder had been challenging and they were still in the process of adjusting to this change.

"Staff were often moved between services to cover vacant shifts including on both Flower Adams wards.

"Some staff did not feel adequately trained to meet the specific needs of these patients.

"We were concerned that continuity of care for patients was disrupted when staff moved between services."

Patients also expressed concerns they were not actively engaged in their own care proposals and some had not even seen copies of the plans.

However, inspectors did praise the hospital's responsiveness, rating it as "good" and said staff were "discreet and respectful" when caring for patients.

The report added: "We observed staff interacting with patients in a way that was responsive to their needs.

"Staff described the needs of their patients and how they worked with patients to support them."

A spokesperson from Cygnet Health Care said: “We acknowledge the CQC’s recent report on Cygnet Hospital Colchester, which noted several issues for us to address in terms of the service we provide.

"Following the CQC’s inspection we have developed a comprehensive action plan to address the concerns raised.

“The care of our service users, some of the most vulnerable members of our society, remains our top priority and we were heartened to see the CQC’s report noted that staff were ‘discreet and respectful’ when caring for patients and that they were ‘responsive’ to service users’ needs.

“We will continue to work with the CQC and all relevant stakeholders to ensure our services meet the high standards that both we and the CQC require.”