CQC rates Staffordshire mental health hospital inadequate

Page last updated: 10 March 2022

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated a Staffordshire mental health hospital inadequate, following an inspection in October which found concerns around patient safety and wellbeing.

Following this inspection, the hospital is rated inadequate overall as well as for being safe, caring and well-led. It is rated requires improvement for being effective and good for being responsive to people’s needs. The service was previously rated good in 2018.

The provider has also been served with warning notices requiring them to make improvements around their leadership skills, systems and processes, as well as their infection prevention and control measures.

Huntercombe Hospital Stafford is a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) run by Huntercombe Young People Ltd. The service provides care for 37 children and young people aged eight to 18 years. The provider took over the service in February 2021 from the previous provider.

Craig Howarth, CQC head of inspection for mental health and community health services, said:

“CQC’s inspection of Huntercombe Hospital Stafford found the service was not always meeting high standards of quality or safety that its young patients have a right to expect. Some leaders lacked awareness of the challenges they faced and weren’t visible or approachable for staff or patients.

“We found there were gaps in hygiene measures, poorly implemented policies for hand hygiene and social distancing. This put people at avoidable risk of infection.

“There was a reliance on agency workers who could not have the same knowledge of the service and its patients as regular staff. This situation was worsened by incomplete handovers between shifts, meaning staff starting work lacked all the information needed to provide safe care to people. Staff observation of patients was also undermined by a blind spot where people could self-harm unseen.

“Further to these issues, we saw that staff sometimes showed a lack of respect to patients and one ward was poorly furnished and maintained and there wasn’t always enough emphasis on some people’s individual requirements. Although, the provider has plans in place to re-decorate and replace some furniture to improve the environment for people.

“Inspectors did find good practice at the hospital; they welcomed its detailed patient care plans which helped staff meet people’s needs and the service successfully monitored people’s physical health, gave them choices about their care and provided activities which helped their recovery.

“We also found the service worked well with external healthcare professionals to discharge people to other settings.

“We have issued warning notices and are waiting for an action plan outlining how they will address the areas of concern. We will continue to monitor the hospital closely and we will take further action if required.”

CQC told the hospital that it must make the following improvements:

  • Ensure Hartley ward has equipment and furnishings to meet the sensory needs of people.
  • Ensure care records are personalised, goal orientated and demonstrate involvement from children and young people.
  • Mitigate the blind spot on the Wedgewood unit stairs to ensure visibility.
  • Ensure infection, prevention control measures are embedded.
  • Ensure ward environments are clean, well-furnished, and well-maintained.
  • Ensure senior managers are visible and approachable for staff and children.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient, qualified staff providing care supported by effective auditing and systems.

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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.