INSPECTORS said a private mental health unit in Blackburn was failing to meet essential levels of staffing after concerns were raised by an anonymous tip-off.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said staff and patients at The Fountains hospital, owned by the Cambian Group, in Pleasington Close had complained of a shortage of nurses, especially at evenings and weekends.

The watchdog started investigating after a probe by Blackburn with Darwen Council upheld allegations about the ‘misuse of medication’ and a ‘medication error’, due to insufficient staffing.

In May, CQC inspectors heard reports that patients’ community leave was often cancelled, while staff said there was ‘absolutely room for increased staffing levels’.

One worker told inspectors: “Some patients need three-to-one escorts and I find it frustrating that they can’t have their leave because there isn’t always enough staff.”

The hospital’s manager said an increase in qualified nurses had been approved, but admitted staffing levels based on patient numbers were not routinely followed, the inspectors’ report added.

Other essential standards were found to be met and the report acknowledged staff had the right knowledge, experience, qualifications and skills to support the patients.

Jeremy Wiles, Group Business Development Director, said: “The Fountains are working collaboratively with the CQC and other agencies.”