MENTAL health services are inconsistent, the Care Quality Commission has said.
In the findings of it’s much-anticipated report into Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, the watchdog said some wards were poorly staffed and agency workers or non-permanent staff were frequently used which meant they could not provide consistent care.
One member of agency staff working on a ward for older people told inspectors they had not been told the name or details about the treatment of someone they were looking after.
Permanent staff said they were stretched because of delay in filling vacant posts while the use of Locums suggested consultant leave was not being properly managed.
Regular doctor changes were highlighted as a concern among other staff and patients as was the high bed occupancy rate was highlighted and the lack of qualified school nurses which created pressure in children’s care.
Patients with complex physical needs were said to be being admitted to St Michael’s Hospital in Warwick to be cared for by staff with limited experience and knowledge of their needs.
Inspectors also reported concerns among staff that they were being kept in the dark over the trust’s transformation plan with Cedarwood day hospital in Warwick suspended at short notice and without consultation.
It had led to some staff fearing the quality of care was being affected as a result, the CQC report said.
The report was, as The Observer reported it would be earlier this year, largely negative but there were some areas of the trust that were praised.
They included the specialist inpatient eating disorder service, children’s respite service where there were several long-serving staff, community services and some specialist wards at the medium secure Brooklands unit in Solihull.
Junior doctors also said it was a good place to train even though they had concerns about how some shifts were staffed.
Staff were also said to be generally committed and caring, according to patients who inspectors spoke to, despite being very busy.
The work of school nurses was highlighted even though their workload was deemed to not be properly monitored by managers.
We reported in February how a whistle-blower told us the service was close to meltdown with morale at an all time low and clinical staff felt they were being ignored with bosses focusing purely on financial issues ahead of a fourth attempt to become a Foundation Trust.
Indeed the inspection report makes reference to the trust being some way off the standard required for its application to be accepted.
They also heard for themselves suggestions of a bullying culture with claims managers were not listening to clinicians’ advice on the impact of changes while non executive directors were said to be unfamiliar with safety and care requirements.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector, said his team would check on improvements after issuing a list of 12 essential standards and quality and safety that were not being met.
“We found some examples of good practice in services and excellent training for some teams but there were inconsistencies and good practice was not always replicated across the organisation.
“The trust is aware of its shortcomings, is receptive to our findings and has already begun to address the issues we highlighted.”
Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust chief executive Rachel Newson said: “We welcome this comprehensive report and the positive comments from the inspectors about a number of our services.
“We put ourselves forward to take part in this inspection process and are the first Trust of this type to do so. We have engaged fully with the CQC team to give them as accurate a picture as we can of the work we do.
“Our staff do a tremendous job every day providing high quality services, often for very vulnerable people, and this shines through again and again in this report.
“However, we recognise there are a number of areas where we still need to improve, particularly around how we spread our good practice to all areas of our Trust.
“We are already working to make sure we focus on these issues and have clear plans to address all of the concerns that have been raised.
“We will continue to work with staff, patients, carers and other organisations. We will work to ensure our services meet or exceed the high standards of care that the people we serve rightly expect.”
Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust was formed in 2006, running patient services from 80 sites including the Caludon Centre in Coventry, The Railings in Rugby and Brooklands Unit in Solihull.
It has a workforce of 4,000 and a budget of around £200million.
Among its board non-executive directors are former Warwickshire MEP Phillip Bushill-Matthews, who is vice chairman, and chairman Martin Gower, once the managing director of the Coventry Telegraph – both of whom are nearing the end of their four-year terms.