AN INDEPENDENT hospital which cares for people with autism and learning disabilities has been shut down suddenly after “serious concerns” were raised.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken “urgent action” against The Breightmet Centre for Autism, including removing its registration, following an inspection in June and July.

Inspectors identified serious concerns with the centre’s physical environment and the provider’s understanding of people’s healthcare needs.

A full inspection report is yet to be published and the watchdog is undertaking a review of quality for the centre. In the meantime the services provided have been taken over by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. 

A CQC spokesman said: “Inspectors are currently working closely with commissioners and stakeholders who are supporting people to find appropriate care.

“The CQC’s priority is always the safety and well-being of people using services and has taken this action to ensure they are protected and kept safe from avoidable harm.

“The report from the recent inspection will be published in due course. Any action taken by CQC is open to appeal by the provider.”

The centre, which is based in Milnthorpe Road, is run by ASC Healthcare Limited and had been registered to assess and provide medical treatment for people aged under 65 detained under the 1983 Act, since 2013.

It also provided care for people with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, physical disabilities and was registered for the treatment of disease, disorder or injury.

According to its last CQC inspection report published in August 2018, the centre had 18 male and female patients and was rated “Good” in all areas.

Management of the site has been temporarily taken over by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust who will be working with ASC Healthcare staff, the NHS confirmed.

An NHS spokesman said: “This arrangement has been put in place, in discussion with the CQC, in order to minimise disruption to the patients there, who have very complex needs and come from different parts of the country.

“NHS England and Improvement, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, Mersey Care, CCG commissioners, patients’ families, the CQC, and ASC Healthcare are now working together to ensure everyone has the most appropriate ongoing care.”

Following the CQC’s action, autism and learning disability charities have labelled the closure “worrying”.

Steph Sherratt, manager at Breaking Barriers, a Bolton-based disability charity, said: “Any setting anywhere that cares for vulnerable people that gets a remark like that from the CQC is concerning because children and young people that we care for in Bolton are going to become adults in Bolton and it’s worrying that they may not be getting the best care.

“As families you put your trust in people to give people support. Nobody wants to hear that their relative may have been sent somewhere they weren’t adequately cared for.”

In a joint statement, Bolton CCG and Bolton Council said: “We have been made aware of the enforcement action by CQC and as the independent hospital is located in our borough, we are supporting commissioners from elsewhere in the country to ensure all patients receive safe ongoing care.

“Whilst we do not have any patients from Bolton placed in this facility, the care and safety of those who are there is a priority for everyone involved.”

ASC Healthcare Limited has been approached for comment.