Urgent improvements required for Black Country mental health wards after inspection by watchdog

The Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's rating for acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units (PICU) was downgraded to "requires improvement." Credit: PA Images

A mental health ward in the Black Country has been told to improve its services after reports of several safeguarding incidents.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units (PICU) as "requires improvement".

It follows an inspection in February after serious safeguarding complaints were being investigated by the local authority and police at the time of inspection.

In the new report, published today (May 18), the CQC said concerns involved patients being discharged too soon, teams did not always have the specialist skills required to meet a patient's need, and patients did not have enough individual care from nurses.

The report's findings led to the mental health services being downgraded from good to requires improvement.

Andy Brand, from the Midlands CQC department, said the workers were a strong team and proud to be a part of the trust, but added patient care needed improving.

He said: "It was concerning that people sometimes had their escorted leave or activities cancelled and some wards didn’t have enough occupational therapists or activity staff.

"This meant people didn’t receive the treatment they needed to support their discharge from hospital, or have their wellbeing needs met.

"In addition, people’s care plans weren’t always updated or reviewed effectively which impacted the care they received.

"We saw examples where people’s health needs or medication had changed but nothing had been noted in their plan meaning staff wouldn’t be delivering the correct care."

Mr Brand also said the CQC received positive feedback about staff, stating they were "very caring and always treated them [patients] with respect".

"We also noted that staff assessed and managed risk well and minimised the use of restrictive practices on people.

"Staff also knew about any potential ligature anchor points that people could use to self-harm and mitigated these risks to keep people safe," he added.

The CQC will continue to monitor the trust to ensure the necessary improvements towards safe and appropriate care are made.

What did the Care Quality Commission find?

Inspectors found the following services need to be improved:

  • Beds weren't always available for someone who would benefit from admission

  • Patients were not always discharged promptly once able to leave

  • Some people didn’t have one-to-one time with their nurse

  • Ward teams didn’t always have access to the full range of specialists required to meet patient's needs

  • Ward staff didn’t always work well together with community teams and external providers

  • Not all staff were trained in immediate life support

However, the CQC did find the trust was doing well at:

  • Being kind, caring and interested in patients and their families they said staff

  • Respecting patients and families privacy by knocking on the door before entering

  • Reducing the staff turnover rates across wards

  • Engaging in clinical audits to evaluate the quality of care they provided

  • Understanding their roles and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005

The trust accepted there were areas to improve and it was taking action.

Marsha Foster, Chief Executive at the Trust, told ITV News Central: "We welcome the feedback received in report and take the required actions very seriously.

"We are committed to improving our services and are taking necessary steps to address the issues raised.

"We have developed a comprehensive plan to increase training compliance and we continue to work closely with staff to improve the quality of care we provide."

Ms Foster went on to say, the trust has identified issues within certain departments and will make sure improvements are made.

"Our adult inpatient services, in particular, have experienced a number of challenges over the past six months, and we continue to work closely with the CQC and partners to implement the improvements that have been identified," she said.

"We are also really pleased that inspectors observed examples of good care and received positive feedback from staff and patients.

"The Trust's overall rating remains 'good', and I would like to thank staff for their continued hard work and commitment.

"They do an incredible job, and I am confident that together we will continue to build on our strengths and achievements and make the improvements required."

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