'Celebrity' rehab charging £9,000 for treatment is 'not fit for purpose'

Nick Conn of Verve Health

Nick Conn, chief executive of Verve Health, which runs the drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Watton - Credit: Verve Health

Inspectors have said a 'celebrity' drug rehabilitation centre charging up to £9,000 for treatment is "not fit for purpose".

Verve Health, in the former Hare and Barrell Hotel in Watton, has been rated as inadequate in all areas by the Care Quality Commission following a visit earlier this year.

The 24-bed facility was launched in June 2021 and, at the time, its chief Nick Conn promised it would "put Watton on the map" adding that its treatments would attract celebrities looking to beat addiction.

Verve Health Rehabilitation Centre

The cost of treatments ranges from £6,950 to £8,950 a person at the centre and Mr Conn said he hopes the cost can be brought down further as many people could not access help. - Credit: Verve Health

But a scathing report from the CQC has described the facility as "not safe, clean, well-equipped, well-furnished, well-maintained or fit for purpose".

Mr Conn has since said the centre is making concerted efforts to improve, employing new staff and improving training for the existing ones.

He added that when the inspection was carried out, the centre was short-staffed and still recovering from the impact of Covid cases.

But the inspectors highlighted a litany of failings at the centre, including a variety of safety concerns.

Most Read

These included:

  • Continuing to admit new clients during a Covid-19 outbreak - and not informing new ones of the positive cases
  • Not risk assessing potential ligature points at the site
  • Not completing mental health assessments on clients
  • Failing to take record of clients who had shared suicidal thoughts with staff
  • Rooms not being equipped with alarms

The inspection found that several of the activities being advertised by the rehab centre - including yoga and trauma therapy - were not being provided. Meanwhile, others only came at an additional cost.

Mr Conn wanted to reassure the community about the opening of the centre which is housed in the former Hare and Barrel Hotel.

Mr Conn wanted to reassure the community about the opening of the centre which is housed in the former Hare and Barrel Hotel. - Credit: Verve Health

Craig Howarth, the CQC's head of hospital inspection, said: People using Verve were clearly not receiving the care and support they needed.

"We had significant concerns about the clinic's staffing levels and found people didn't have access to the full range of specialists to meet their individual needs or keep them safe.

"People told us they felt misled about the treatments offered at the service and didn't feel staff were interested in their concerns."

The CQC is set to re-inspect the site in the coming months and should it not show improvement, could shut it down.

Mr Howarth added: "We found there was no clear way for people to provide feedback on their care and incidents were often not reported or investigated.

"This failure to listen to people using the service, or learn from things that went wrong, meant problems became entrenched.

"People should be able to access safe, effective and compassionate care - and we have told the service what it must do to comply.

"We will not hesitate to prevent it from providing care to people if we aren't assured of swift and significant improvement."

Mr Conn, who founded Help4Additction after himself battling a cocaine addiction, said efforts were being made to turn the centre around.

He said: "We were very grateful for the report from the CQC.

"Unfortunately, during the first inspection, we were up against the challenges of Covid still rippling on.

"We had to have quite a few of our services remotely, such as the physician and some of our activities were paused because we had a case of Covid in the clinic and had to take all the necessary precautions.

"That unfortunately caused quite a few issues, with some staff going off sick, and the CQC came on the back of us trying to recuperate from that.

"I think a lot of their comments were very fair but since then they have come back again to which they have noticed a lot of improvements."

Nick Conn

Nick Conn, of Help4Addicition himself battled a cocaine addition, and has now opened the Verve Health drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Watton. - Credit: Verve Health

Mr Conn added that since the inspection he had employed three new psychiatrists and nurses to address the lack of expertise highlighted by the CQC.

He added: "We now have a full staffing team back and have introduced new training in certain areas, so there have been huge improvements we have been able to make.

"We will continue to strive to move forward in the best way, so onwards and upwards."