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Scandal-hit mental health hospitals must not be allowed to pass the buck

Though the private sector can bring capacity, flexibility and expertise to an NHS so often overwhelmed and starved of resources, there has to be a better way of monitoring private institutions that have proved inadequate, or worse

Wednesday 14 June 2023 20:50 BST
Patients of Taplow Manor in Maidenhead spoke out about maltreatment
Patients of Taplow Manor in Maidenhead spoke out about maltreatment (Shutterstock)

It is rare for those who fail to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable to take responsibility for what has taken place on their watch. In recent years there have been some appalling, near-unbelievable documented examples, notably in the series of maternity care scandals revealed by The Independent. Now we find that the chief executive of a group of children’s mental health hospitals has stood down after this newspaper exposed “systemic abuse”. Dr Sylvia Tang, chief executive of Active Care Group, which owns what was formerly named Huntercombe Group hospitals, has left her role to “pursue a plural career”.

She was right to do so. Her resignation comes after a joint investigation by The Independent and Sky News revealed not only instances of inadequate care, but also the way that probate companies can reconstitute themselves after subsequently losing NHS contracts. Allegations of abuse were levelled by more than 50 patients and whistleblowers, because staffing levels were so low patients risked serious harm. The police and the Care Quality Commission have been involved in follow-up inquiries.

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