A MEMBER of staff at a mental health hospital in the region has been suspended amid allegations of assault on a vulnerable patient, The Northern Echo has learnt.

An investigation is under way involving The Priory Hospital, in Middleton St George, near Darlington.

It is understood CCTV showing the alleged incident has been passed to the police, with both the hospital and Durham Police confirming that an investigation is ongoing.

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Officers are remaining tight-lipped as to further details and it is unclear what exactly the CCTV footage shows, or whether any arrests have been made.

However, a spokesman for the hospital, which can accommodate up to 90 patients across six units offering varying degrees of security, confirmed that a member of staff had been suspended.

The spokesman said: “We take all allegations seriously and have shared our internal CCTV footage with the police.

“Delivering high quality care is out absolute focus, which is why we monitor out own units to ensure that all patients are treated with dignity and respect.

“This incident was quickly identified by our own systems, which have enabled the allegation to be discovered and investigated quickly.

“It appears to be isolated and the individual involved has been suspended while the investigation is completed.”

A spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “An incident has been reported and an investigation is under way.”

Although The Priory is privately-owned, it is understood Darlington Borough Council has been informed of the investigation, as well as the NHS and healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).