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Mental health trust rated ‘requires improvement’ after failing to address crisis concerns

Crisis services were unsafe and patients had to wait a year for therapy at Camden and Islington Mental Health FT, the CQC has said in its latest report.

The CQC rated the trust as ‘requires improvement’ overall and ‘inadequate’ for its mental health crisis and place of safety services.

It said facilities were not clean or well maintained, staff did not check that equipment was working, and there was a lack of understanding of the Mental Capacity Act.

The facilities fell short of guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the hospital had made no improvements despite staff repeatedly raising concerns.

Inspectors also raised concerns about the safety of the facilities. They said that staff had not taken steps to remove ligature points and some wards had no ligature cutters and blind spots where staff could not observe patients.

Staff at community services were unable to respond to urgent safeguarding referrals outside office hours, and sometimes did not record safeguarding information clearly. The keeping of paper records was disorganised and patients with complex anxiety, depression and trauma were having to wait a year to access therapy.

The CQC also found that some services were failing to reach 80% targets on staff training for areas including Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act awareness and safeguarding training.

The Mental Health Taskforce report, published in February, found widespread failings in mental healthcare across the country.

Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (mental health) at the CQC, said: “Overall, we have made it clear that the trust needs to take steps to improve the quality of its services.

“We will be working with the trust to agree an action plan that will identify how the trust will improve the standards of care and treatment and we will return in the future to check if the required improvements have been made to ensure the trust provides safe and good quality services to patients in the future.”

However, the CQC rated Camden and Islington as ‘good’ for being caring, saying that staff interactions with patients and their families were “responsive, respectful, and provided appropriate practical and emotional support”.

It also rated the trust as ‘good’ for its community mental health services for people with learning disabilities or autism, and community services and wards for older people with mental health problems.

Angela McNab, chief executive of Camden and Islington, said: “We are grateful for the CQC’s report and pleased that they found many areas of good practice. However, we recognise that there needs to be consistency in standards across our organisation.”

She said that Camden and Islington had already invested £4m in making its estates safer over the past two years, and would now spend an additional £500,000 on areas such as removing ligature points.

McNab also said the trust was working to place more mental healthcare teams within GP practices to try to improve access to care.

(Image c. Yui Mok from PA Wire)

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