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Planned trust merger ‘hampered day-to-day services’ as provider’s rating drops to ‘requires improvement’

A West Midlands mental health trust that recently aborted merger plans has been urged to improve after inspectors found that the trust lacked sufficient governance systems, staff failed to manage medicines consistently, and some properties were unclean and unfit for purpose.

The Black Country Partnership NHS FT (BCP) has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ following a CQC inspection, dropping from ‘good’ rating, and was told it must re-establish control of performance following the merger plans.

Inspectors found that staff were not receiving regular managerial and clinical supervision or managing medicines consistently well.

In parts of the trust, employees were forced to use paper notes alongside three different electronic recording systems, and governance systems from ward to board were judged not to be strong enough to identify and rectify a number of risks.

The CQC concluded that the board’s day-to-day running of services “has been hampered because of uncertainty created by a proposed merger with other NHS trusts.”

The inspectorate’s deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health, Paul Lelliott, added: “We concluded that this had adversely affected the quality of some of the trust’s services.”

In 2017, three trusts in West Midlands were planning to merge to create one of the biggest mental health and community trusts in the country – with Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust, Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust, and BCP set to merge by October that year.

But the triple merger collapsed in March 2018 following concerns from NHS Improvement that the new trust working across multiples STPs would create clinical and financial troubles, although BCP and the Dudley and Walsall trust are still reportedly planning to merge in 2020.

Lelliott continued: “During our inspection, we saw evidence that the leadership team were picking up the reins once again.

“It is vital that they follow through and we expect to see the trust perform better all-round the next time we visit the trust.”

Image credit - MartinPrescott


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