An autistic person was left alone in a room surrounded by faeces they had smeared on the walls at a mental health hospital for more than 17 hours.

The incident was revealed after an inspection at Cygnet Hospital in London Road, Harrow, by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in May and June this year.  

The health watchdog has now downgraded the hospital’s overall rating from the second-highest ‘good’ rating to the lowest ‘inadequate’.

Inspectors said that the Springs Unit and Springs Centre – which provide services to men with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder – were not adequately cleaned.

One person on Springs Unit was in seclusion for more than 17 hours before smeared faeces were cleaned up.

Inspectors found the service was not meeting the needs of autistic people, who said they did not feel they were treated with compassion and kindness.

At the hospital, people living on the wards for autistic people for lengthy periods of time were not having routine health checks such as appointments with the optician, dentist or GP.

Some people also reported that food was not always of good quality, could be too cold (when it was a hot meal) and that portions were too small, so they were eating snacks.

The environment of Springs Centre and Springs Unit was deemed “not suitable for autistic people”.

Inspectors said they found the environment to be “institutional and noisy”.

Overall, services at Cygnet Hospital were rated ‘inadequate’ for how safe, effective, caring and well-led they are, and ‘requires improvement’ - the second-lowest score - for how responsive they are to people’s needs.

A spokesperson for Cygnet Hospital Harrow said: “Although we are disappointed with the outcome of the inspection at Cygnet Hospital Harrow, we have already begun working hard to address the issues raised to ensure improvements are made quickly and implemented effectively.

“Since the inspection in May, we have appointed a new hospital manager who is already overseeing the rollout of an enhanced specialist autism training programme for all staff, a new protocol to support patients’ physical health, as well as strengthening governance processes and regular checks of all medical equipment.

“Improvements are also being made to the ward environments to enhance our service user experience and ensure they meet their individual sensory needs.

“The inspectors did highlight that the ward teams across the hospital had access to the full range of professional staff required and patients had access to a range of therapeutic activities to meet their needs.

“It also stated that staff had a good understanding of safeguarding processes, however we are not complacent and providing compassionate, personalised care is our absolute priority.

“We are committed to making the required improvements so that our service users receive the standards of care they deserve and we all expect.

“We look forward to demonstrating the improvements we have made at the next inspection.”