Blandford Priory Hospital admissions suspended over safety fears
A hospital for children with learning disabilities and mental health issues has been told to stop admitting new patients amid fears for their safety.
Children at Priory Hospital Blandford reported being assaulted by other patients and feeling degraded by staff.
The facility in Dorset has been placed in special measures after the Care Quality Commission rated it inadequate.
Priory Group, which runs the unit, said the findings were a "sad reflection" of a national shortage of nurses.
The 12-bed hospital, which cares for young people aged 12 to 18, opened last September.
But it was rated inadequate following its first inspection in May.
"Staff and young people said that they felt unsafe on the wards and that there had been patient-on-patient assaults and bullying, and assaults on staff," Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors noted.
It said staff lacked the skills and experience to deal with the complex needs of patients.
CQC deputy chief inspector for hospitals Dr Paul Lelliott, said: "Due to our concerns for the safety of young people, we issued a warning notice immediately after the inspection.
"As a result of our inspection, NHS England have taken the decision to suspend admissions until further notice."
A Priory Group spokesman said: "Whilst we take the CQC report extremely seriously and will strive to make immediate changes to the service, the findings are in fact a sad reflection - and yet more evidence - of a deeper underlying structural problem namely the national shortage of appropriately skilled registered nurses and care staff in the UK."
A full review would assess what changes could be made "to compensate for the real challenges we are facing in relation to the recruitment of appropriately skilled staff", he added.