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CQC finds ‘little improvement’ in South Tyneside after targeted visit

Inspectors have ordered South Tyneside NHS FT to take action over its processes for safeguarding children.

The CQC carried out an unannounced targeted inspection of safeguarding measures at South Tyneside District Hospital on 27 and 28 August, following concerns after the trust was rated ‘requires improvement’ last December.

It has now issued a s29A Warning Notice to the trust, requiring it to make significant improvements.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We were worried about the trust’s ability to safeguard children and young people following a joint targeted area inspection earlier this year, which is why we returned for this focused inspection.

“I am disappointed that we saw little improvement in this area and have told the trust they have work to do.”

The CQC said that staff understood their responsibilities for safeguarding children and young people, but were not implementing adequate procedures, leading to services that were not safe or well-led.

Inspectors found that there were no procedures for adequately identifying and supporting children who may be at risk.

The emergency department records did not include the information necessary to identify a child’s social circumstances or if they were at risk of self-harm.

Limitations with the patient recording system in the emergency department meant clinical managers did not have an effective means of gathering data for an overview of the children involved when an adult was admitted to the emergency department.

The report also found there was limited management oversight of its processes for safeguarding children, with no adequate processes for supervision, peer review, training or audit.

Official trust policy stated that all referrals should be copied to the safeguarding team for oversight and follow up, but this was not adhered to consistently.

The CQC recommended a number of actions South Tyneside needs to take. These include ensuring that formal supervision processes for safeguarding children are in place in the maternity, paediatrics and emergency departments; reviewing the culture in the paediatric department to ensure that staff roles are clear; and ensuring processes are in place for safeguarding processes for attendees under 18 to be reviewed.

NHE contacted South Tyneside FT for a comment but it did not respond at the time of publication.

9.30am UPDATE

Dr Bob Brown, South Tyneside FT's executive director for nursing and quality, said: “We fully accept the findings outlined in the Care Quality Commission’s report and the need for improvements to be quickly addressed.

“Immediately following their inspection in July, we drew up an action plan, which we are monitoring weekly, and we know that this has gone some considerable way to resolving issues of concern.

“Safeguarding children is one of our major responsibilities and we are very disappointed that we did not meet the exceptional standards we set ourselves in this regard. Our staff work hard every single day to keep children and young people at South Tyneside District Hospital and across our Trust safe and we can assure our local population that everyone is totally committed to protecting them in every way we can.”   

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