CQC carried out a short notice focused inspection on the safety of the community mental health services for adults of working age after receiving information of concerns about the standard of care from whistle-blowers.
Following this inspection, the safety rating for this service has dropped from requires improvement to inadequate and CQC has issued the trust with a warning notice to focus their attention on making significant and immediate improvements in this area.
As this was a focused inspection, just looking at safety, the service’s overall rating remains as requires improvement and the trust’s overall rating remains as good.
Brian Cranna, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said:
“When we inspected the community-based mental health services for adults of working age, we found that managers supported and supervised newly qualified staff well and patients said the service was good, however, people using the service and their carers also told us they struggled to contact the service for support or when in crisis. This left people at risk of harm as they had no way to tell staff their mental health had worsened.
“The service suffered from low staffing levels and high turnover rates. We found managers hadn’t reviewed staffing levels for some time and there were no current plans to do this to meet demand. Due to this people were waiting too long to be seen for their first appointment, and people weren’t being seen regularly to keep them safe. It was also concerning that people’s care plans didn’t contain up to date information about their care and treatment.
“Due to our findings, we have served the trust a warning notice so that they are clear about what changes must be made to improve patient care and safety. We will continue to monitor the service and return to check on the progress of these changes.”
- Patients and carers were unable to contact the service with ease via telephone or other methods regarding care and treatment.
- The service did not effectively monitor patients waiting for an assessment and treatment.
- Patients did not have an up-to-date risk assessment or processes in place.
- Staff did not always act upon safeguarding alerts promptly.
- Staffing shortages were too low to meet patient’s levels needs and provide safe care and treatment.
- Staff were not appropriately or consistently assessing and managing risks to patients.
- Staff did not always assess risks to patients, act on them or keep good care records.
The report is available on the website.
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