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Care watchdog downgrades service provided by local mental health trust over safety concerns

A care watchdog has downgraded a service provided by a local mental health trust over safety concerns.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) told Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust to improve patient safety in some areas of known risk following inspections in May this year.

In a report published yesterday (Wednesday 11th), the CQC downgraded the trust’s wards for older people with mental health problems from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’. Mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety was re-rated as ‘requires improvement’.

The trust, which is now part of North London Mental Health Partnership, retained its overall rating of ‘good’.

Inspectors flagged up a number of safety concerns with Silver Birches, a ward that treats older people with mental health problems.

The CQC found governance processes at the ward – previously identified as having a high number of incidents around people’s physical health and risk of falls – were “not always sufficient to ensure the safety of patients”.

It said some staff were not aware of incidents that had happened on the ward, and six incidents relating to either safeguarding matters or falls that led to bone fractures had not been discussed with staff. Learning from incident investigations had not always been implemented.

Only two of the five staff on the ward who were required to complete mandatory training on immediate life support had done so.

An inspection of mental health crisis services and health-based places of safety found the service did not always have robust systems and processes to safely prescribe, administer, record and store medicines.

Inspectors found the trust’s mental health crisis home treatment services in Enfield had too many cases compared to their resources. This meant staff did not always have enough time to meet people’s needs, and some urgently referred people were left waiting for more than four hours before they were seen.

In addition, the completion of mandatory training was low and below the levels required in some teams. The failure to meet a target for a particular type of training was “potentially a risk to patient safety”.

Despite these failings, most aspects of care were rated ‘good’ for both services.

Jane Ray, CQC deputy director of operations in London, said: “When we inspected these services, we found leaders needed to make further improvements to people’s safety in some areas of known risk. However, most people received care from kind, skilled staff who knew how to meet their needs.

“We reported our findings to the trust so it knows where it must make improvements, and where there’s good practice it can build on.

“We’ll continue monitoring the trust to ensure people are safe and will return to assess whether improvements have been made.”

North London Mental Health Partnership said in a statement: “The safety, comfort and welfare of our service users are our highest priority and we have made many improvements since both inspections took place.

“We will now continue to focus on achieving the high standards the CQC noted in many parts of both services, consistently, across every area.”