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25.02.15

Southern Health NHS Trust rated ‘requires improvement’

Southern Health NHS Trust, a provider of specialist mental health and learning disability services across the south of England, has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 

Following an inspection in October, the regulator has published 17 separate reports that highlighted “significant variation” in the quality of services provided by the trust in hospitals, clinics and in the community. 

In particular, inspectors raised concerns about the safety of patients at Ravenswood House, a secure hospital at Fareham. Although there are plans to relocate the service, inspectors were concerned that the building was “unfit for use”. Also, some wards had ligature points that could endanger people at risk of suicide, noted the CQC. 

The regulator has identified a number of areas where the trust must improve. As a first step, on the adolescent mental health wards and forensic services, the trust must ensure there is an appropriate policy for the use of restraint and that there is appropriate recording of this. 

Additionally, the trust must ensure appropriate measures are taken to mitigate and manage ligature risks, which might endanger patients at risk of suicide, on forensic and secure wards at Ravenswood House and Southfield. 

And Southern Health must also ensure there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff to provide end of life care to all patients that need it. 

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health at the CQC, said: “Although we found a number of specific problems that must be put right, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust provides some good and even some outstanding services to a large population.  We found a committed and caring workforce that was, for the most part, meeting the needs of all those people safely and effectively.    

“In common with some other mental health and community health trusts, Southern Health, is struggling to recruit good staff - the general shortage of newly qualified mental health nurses had contributed to this problem. 

He added that throughout the inspection the team received many comments about access to crisis services for adults, particularly out of hours. 

“Patients and their carers told us that they had to go to A&E departments because crisis services which should have been provided by the trust were not available,” said Dr Lelliott. 

Commenting on the CQC report, Katrina Percy, CEO of Southern Health, said it provided an “invaluable opportunity” for the trust to reflect on detailed feedback on its services. 

“In every part of the report, the recurring theme is the caring and responsive approach of staff towards patients. This is something I see in our staff every day, and it is reassuring and affirming to see this care recognised by the CQC,” she said. 

“The report also highlighted a number of areas for improvement, which we have already begun to address. We know that there will always be things we can learn from and ways we can make our services better, and we are working closely with staff, commissioners and partners to make progress. 

“This is a challenging time for the health service nationally, and our work with colleagues in primary and social care will transform traditional care services for the future.” 

(Image: Ravenswood House, Fareham. c. Peter Facey)

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