Private Eye on Abuse and Neglect at Beech House Private Care Home

After covering several stories of abuse and neglect at private care homes, Private Eye ran another story about the poor care given to adults suffering from learning difficulties and ‘challenging behaviour’ at the private Beech House hospital in Newmarket in their 24th August -6th September 2012 edition. Here it is.

‘Care Homes

A Private Concern

More evidence emerges that big business and private-equity firms are among the worst offenders when it comes to running poor care homes.

Last month Eye 1319 revealed how the ever-expanding Priory Group and Craegmoor-owned by the American private-equity firm Advent International – were the owners of two of the 18 homes and hospitals found to be failing to protect its young disabled residents during Care Quality Commission inspections.

Another found by the care watchdog to have “major concerns” was Beech House in Newmarket, an independent hospital that houses 30 adults with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour. Inspectors found residents were “being restrained unnecessarily ” by staff who were “authoritarian” and “very controlling”. All external and internal doors were locked, even though this was a “low secure hospital”.

Issuing enforcement notices against the hospital, inspectors concluded that patients were “not being protected from abuse, or the risk of abuse”.

Beech House is part of the Four Seasons group, which also owns six homes listed as “moderate concern” by the inspectors. Four Seasons has been bought and sold by private-equity firms for years: Terra Firma, the private-equity outfit run by Guy Hands, was the latest to buy it, for £800m in April.

Another of the 18 presenting “major concerns” was Elmsmead in Taunton, a home for a dozen young adults with learning difficulties, where inspectors found poor care planning and a “strong small of urine” in the lounge, suggesting poor continence care. Elmstead is part of the Voyage Care chaine of homes, which also runs the Rhodelands home in Devon, where inspectors recorded “moderate” concerns-and Voyage Care is owned by private-equity firm HG Capital.

Overall in its inspection of 150 institutions, the CQC found that privately owned “independent” homes were twice as likely to fail at both care and safeguarding as those run by the NHS. Eye readers know well the debacle surrounding the collapse of Southern Cross (private-equity owner, Blackstone), the largest provider of care for the elderly – much of it poor.

But the government remains ideologically wedded to greater private investment in health and social care from its business mates and associates. Guy Hands is a close friend of William Hague, and Ian Armitage, chair of HG Capital, gave £30,500 to David Willetts “research fund” and the Tory party between 2007 and 2010.

* Now taxpayers’ money is also being handed over to private enterprise from the care watchdog itself. For the past two years the CQC has been handing monthly sums, in the region of £500,000 or above, to Carlisle Managed Solutions, for staff and services to just about every division of the commission, from registration to regulation, from finance to intelligence – and even to the chair and chief executive’s office. So far Carlisle Managed Solutions has pocketed some £13.66m. It just happened to be owned by Impellam, the so-called global “human capital services company”-owned by the family trust of none other than tax-haven enthusiast and Tory party benefactor Lord Ashcroft.’

So there it is in black and white: privately run hospitals are more inefficient, and offer worse care than the NHS. But thanks to their connections to Tory leaders like Hague and Ashcroft, they’re set to be give more of the NHS.

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