Seven members of staff have been suspended from a Cornish hospital amid allegations of verbal abuse and possible neglect.
The suspensions follow concerns raised by a trust employee
The Cornwall Partnership NHS (CPNHS) Trust has confirmed the suspensions and says a full investigation is under way at Budock Hospital in Falmouth.
A trust spokesman says contact with social services and Devon and Cornwall Police will be maintained throughout.
Budock Hospital is a 17-bed unit for adults with learning disabilities.
Reg Broad, chairman of the east Cornwall branch of Mencap, says the charity is very sad to hear the news.
A year ago, Mr Broad warned officials cuts to services, staff shortages and low morale in the county could lead to abuse.
A statement issued by the CPNHS Trust says the suspensions follow concerns raised in August by a trust employee working in the Budock unit.
The statement said: "Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust actively encourages the reporting of inappropriate behaviour and takes allegations of patient mistreatment extremely seriously.
"Any staff member found responsible will face disciplinary action and the possibility of criminal prosecution."
Budock Hospital was included in a list of NHS sites to be sold off to help provide housing for key workers.
The announcement was made in April by Health Secretary John Reid and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.