Hospital blasted over unsafe seclusion zones for youngsters
A CHILDREN’S mental health unit has been ordered to urgently raise standards of care after inspectors found patients were left in unsafe conditions.
Officials from the Care Quality Commission uncovered failings following a spot-check on St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.
The 100-bed unit has been visited three times in the past three years by the CQC. But on its most recent check,
inspectors found children were being kept in unsafe seclusion rooms for excessive amounts of time and without beds, blankets or pillows.
The CQC also found “the majority of seclusion rooms” lacked basic furnishings – and there were examples of patients’ dignity not being respected.
Officials also reported finding safety risks posed by sharp edges in seclusion rooms, CCTV blind spots and lapses in checks on cutlery which could lead to patient harm. CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals Dr Paul Lelliott said: “We were particularly concerned about how the service responds to patients whose behaviour staff find challenging.”
He added that in some respects the “safety of care had deteriorated in the last three years.”
If standards are not improved the CQC has the power to close the unit, which receives tens of millions of
pounds of public money each year. Some children – who are referred to the unit via the NHS – undergo care costing as much as £750,000 a year.
The Sunday Mirror has spoken to several families who say they are concerned about the care their children have received at the unit.
They include claims about staff using excessive restraint on patients. One parent is planning legal action against St Andrew’s, the NHS and his local council.
In a statement St Andrew’s said it addressed many of the safety issues identified.
It had closed the Northampton service to new patients temporarily while it made changes, including a review of seclusion and segregation across its sites. Katie Fisher, chief executive of St Andrew’s Healthcare, said: “We deeply regret that we have fallen below the standards we aim to uphold, and those expected by the CQC.”
She added: “We are confident that when the CQC returns to inspect the St Andrew’s Healthcare Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in the next six months, they will see significant improvement that will be reflected in an improved rating.”
FAILINGS Report rapped St Andrew’s unit
VOW Health chief Katie Fisher