The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it had taken action at Eldertree Lodge in Market Drayton, following an inspection in March.
The hospital, which provides specialist inpatient treatment and rehabilitation services for adults with a learning disability or autism, was inspected due to serious concerns about the care being provided – some of which were raised by the service’s new provider that took over the hospital four months before the inspection.
The CQC said that during the inspection a number of concerns were identified, and that the provider was told to submit an action plan within 24 hours to describe how it was addressing them.
The CQC said that because the response did not provide the assurance required the hospital was stopped from admitting any new patients without written agreement from the health watchdog.
Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: “When we inspected Eldertree Lodge, we found widespread and significant shortfalls in the way in which the service was led. We expect health and social care providers to guarantee autistic people and people with a learning disability the choices, dignity and independence that most people take for granted.
“We were concerned there had been incidents where patients had self-harmed whilst living at the service. There were not enough staff to safely provide nursing observations and all wards used a high number of agency staff many of who could not describe the needs of the patients in their care.
“Wards were not safe, clean, well-equipped or fit for purpose. Some bathrooms were damp and had visible mould and there was broken and dirty furniture throughout the hospital which posed a risk to patients. There were unlocked areas that contained hazardous materials and some seclusion rooms had blind spots meaning staff could not effectively observe patients.
“In addition, staff did not follow the provider’s Covid-19 infection control policy or national guidance. Throughout the inspection we saw staff not wearing face masks appropriately.
“This is why we took the decision to restrict admissions to the service until improvements are made. We will continue to monitor the service closely and have since returned to check on progress. We will not hesitate to take further enforcement action if necessary.”
A spokesman for Coveberry, which runs Eldertree, said it had recognised the need for improvement since taking over the hospital.
He said: "Coveberry is aware of the findings of a recent inspection report published by the Care Quality Commission regarding Eldertree Lodge, a high-dependency rehabilitation service. Eldertree Lodge recently came under Coveberry’s control as part of a wider acquisition completed in December 2020.
"Upon taking control at Eldertree, Coveberry, alongside other stakeholders, recognised the need for improvements at the site and initiated an action plan to upgrade the standard of services, facilities and the environment as well as enhance training support for staff. New leadership has also been put in place.
"Anticipated timelines for implementing these improvements have been extended by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has impacted the service. We acknowledge that further work is needed but we are confident that progress is being made under the continuing programme of work and investment."