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CQC warns Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership that it is failing to protect the safety and welfare of people at the Fromeside Unit, Blackberry Hill Hospital

8 February 2013
Blackberry Hill Hospital
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • Media,
  • Community services,
  • Mental health community services

8 February 2013

Inspectors issued a warning notice following an unannounced inspection of three wards at the Fromeside Unit in December.

The medium secure unit provides specialist care and treatment for adults with mental disorders, which may mean that they are at significant risk of harming themselves or others. Patients are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The trust had previously said it was introducing new arrangements to respond to staff absence or peaks in demand. But inspectors found that the unit was still failing to comply with the national regulation on staffing. There were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people's needs.

  • There was an over reliance on temporary bank staff, who may not have had the necessary training to undertake the full range of duties on a medium secure unit.
  • Even though many patients at Fromeside were only permitted to leave the ward with staff escorts, staff shortages restricted people's ability to leave the ward.
  • Patients and staff said that leave was regularly cancelled or disrupted, leading to further problems affecting staff and patient morale.

Ian Biggs, deputy director of CQC in the South said:

"People have not always received the care, treatment and support that meets their needs and protects their rights. If people can’t even leave the ward to visit the hospital grounds, you can understand how this might cause disappointment, frustration and anger.

“Staff told us that shortages had become so commonplace that they had become tired of reporting their concerns as they perceived that nothing was done about it, but this cannot be allowed to continue.

“The trust has assured us that they will be taking action to address our concerns and meet the standards. They are required to show us how they will go about this. We will return in the near future and if we find that they are not making the required progress we will consider further how to use our legal powers to protect the patients who use the service."


For further information please contact the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

Notes to editors

The warning notice find that Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health NHS Partnership Trust is in breach of

  • Regulation 22, Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010 – staffing.

If the required improvements are not made within a set timescale, CQC has a range of enforcement powers which include restricting the services that a provider can offer, or, in the most serious cases, suspending or cancelling a service. CQC can also issue financial penalty notices and cautions or prosecute the provider for failing to meet essential standards. Any regulatory decision that CQC takes is open to challenge by a registered person through a variety of internal and external appeal processes.

In September 2012, CQC issued two warning notices to the trust following an unannounced inspection of the Lansdowne Assessment and Treatment Unit. The unit is a 12-bedded unit for adults with learning difficulties who are experiencing mental health problems. Inspectors found that the trust was in breach of national regulations covering the care and welfare of patients, and the safety and suitability of the premises. Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health NHS Partnership Trust decided to close the unit temporarily. CQC will reinspect after the ward is reopened.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.