Southern Health has improved but ‘needs to do more’, says CQC

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A HEALTH organisation that failed to investigate hundreds of deaths has been told it has more to do to improve further – but was praised for the positive steps it has taken already. 

A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust over the summer to look at 10 mental health services and five of its community services.

Inspectors also looked at management and leadership to see if the trust is being led well.

Overall, Southern Health was rated requires improvement although it was given a good rating for being caring and responsive.

A report in 2015 found the mental health trust failed to investigate hundreds of deaths. The trust has been fined £2m in a criminal proseuction.

Karen Bennett-Wilson, the CQC’s head of hospital inspection in the south and lead for mental health, said: ‘It is encouraging to see the improvements that Southern Health have made, although there is still more to do – especially where we found there were not enough staff to meet patients’ needs. 

‘Overall we believe that the trust has made significant improvements. The new leadership team has a clear vision and strategy. 

‘Staff morale has improved with teams reporting a significant change in the culture. Frontline staff that we met felt positive and proud of their work and felt the trust was heading in the right direction.’

During their visit, the CQC changed the rating of long-stay and rehabilitation wards for adults of working age and wards for people with a learning disability or autism from requires improvement to outstanding.

They also found within community health services staff demonstrated an encouraging, sensitive and supportive attitude to patients.

But, after the inspection in June the health watchdog issued a warning notice due to concerns about the safety of young people on the child and adolescent mental health wards.

Inspectors found at times there were not always enough staff which resulted in observations not being carried out as needed. 

A follow-up inspection in July showed the trust had addressed all of the actions required by the notice. 

Dr Nick Broughton, chief executive of Southern Health, said: ‘I am very encouraged to see the trust’s progress highlighted in today’s report, which is a tribute to the diligence and compassion of our staff.

‘It also reflects the significant strides we have made to improve our relations and involvement with the families and carers of our patients and service users

‘While the report gives real cause for optimism, clearly we have more work to do particularly in relation to our staffing levels and ensuring we have enough trained staff to best support the people we care for.’