Health chiefs have called for a trust which cares for people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and addiction to improve – following a critical report by a health watchdog.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which has services across Sussex, needs to improve on four out of five issues including safety, leadership, effectiveness and responsiveness.
Shortage of beds, no plans to tackle ‘relatively high’ suicide rates and ‘serious’ cleanliness problems were among the problems highlighted by the CQC.
However, inspectors rated the trust ‘good’ for caring – describing staff as ‘compassionate’ and ‘willing to go the extra mile’.
Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We have found considerable variation in the quality of the services provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
“I was disappointed at the findings of ward environments that were not clean, did not ensure the privacy and dignity of patients by providing separate facilities for men and women, and did not always ensure the safety of patients.
“While most community-based services were good, some areas of care in learning disability and older people’s inpatient services were inadequate. These services require urgent attention to bring them up to acceptable standards.
“We were also concerned that the trust had no plan in place to tackle the relatively high rate of suicide in Sussex.”
The report found there was an ‘elevated’ risk of suicide within three days of discharge and admittance to acute wards – with more 80 deaths between November 2013 and October 2014.
During the five-day inspection in January, a team of inspectors and specialists visited the trust’s 41 hospital wards, 13 community mental health services, five places of safety and six crisis services.
Inspectors discovered the trust knew about ligature points which could ‘endanger people at risk of suicide’, but had not made it a priority.
They also found patients receiving treatment for anxiety, low mood and autistic spectrum conditions could wait up to a year to be seen.
The trust’s training figure showed only nine per cent of staff had received safeguarding adults training. Staff had also not received mandatory training within the timescales set by the trust. This included basic life support training and safeguarding training.
Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive said the report provided the trust with ‘really important feedback’.
He said: “The CQC highlights services where the level of caring is outstanding and where staff are compassionate, kind and motivated to go the extra mile for the people they serve.
“Our challenge is to achieve this consistently across all our services. We also need to be much better at getting the basics right on issues like staff training and learning from incidents.
“We’ve addressed areas where the inspection team raised concerns about the patient environment, improved the way we deliver staff training and have been talking with patients, public and staff about the steps we need to take to improve patient care.
“Our 2020 Vision describes what we will do to achieve consistently outstanding care across all our services.”
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