A children’s and young people’s mental health unit in Radlett has been issued with a warning and told it must improve, following a recent inspection which found that patients were at risk.
In a report published on March 30, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s child and adolescent mental health wards as inadequate, following an unannounced inspection of Forest House in Radlett.
Following the inspection, the trust was served with a Section 29A warning notice, as the CQC formed the view that the quality of health care provided at the trust’s inpatient service for children and young people required significant improvement. The trust was required to take immediate action to make improvements.
The rating is a drastic deterioration from the previous inspection in March 2019, in which Forest House in Radlett, a 16-bed unit for 13 to 18-year-olds, was rated as outstanding overall.
The CQC highlighted a number of concerns, including limited access to psychology and therapeutic support, staff vacancies, medication administration and dissatisfaction expressed by families and carers of young people who were being cared for on the unit.
Inspectors said that the unit: “Did not have effective systems in place to ensure staff administered and recorded medication to young people in accordance with their prescription charts, and staff not adhering to the trust guidelines when completing physical healthcare checks for young people following administration of medication administered for the purpose of rapid tranquillisation.”
However, the report also noted examples of good practice, including staff showing compassion and kindness to the young people and a person-centred approach to risk assessments and care plans. The Trust says that action has already been taken to respond to the concerns.
Karen Taylor, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are disappointed that we have not always provided the levels of care and support that young people and their families and carers should expect. We have already taken action and are determined to improve the service and care we provide.”
“Demand for our service at Forest House has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with other mental health services across the country, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of young people needing our services, particularly those requiring a high level of support.
“The CQC has recognised that we have already started to address the issues they raised and we have an Improvement Plan in place. We are working closely with service users, their families, carers and the CQC, who will re-inspect Forest House in due course. We are confident that the changes we are already implementing will make a difference and will address the concerns raised.”
Craig Howarth, CQC head of inspection for mental health and community services, said: “Our inspection found children and young people were not receiving standards of care they have a right to expect at Forest House as leadership in this service had significantly deteriorated since our previous inspection. This was having a knock-on effect in all areas of care being provided, and it is one of the reasons we have served the trust with a warning notice.
“It was very concerning that there weren’t effective systems in place to ensure young people were given routine medication safely, or even when medication was administered for the purpose of rapid tranquilisation, putting them at risk.
“It was also worrying some patients told us they felt unsafe, and others told us they felt dissatisfied with the care they received. This was in part because there weren’t enough staff to meet their needs or ensure their safety.
“There wasn’t always enough suitably trained, competent, skilled and experienced staff to deliver safe care and treatment and develop meaningful therapeutic relationships with the young people. Leaders need better oversight of this.”
To read the report in full visit: api.cqc.org.uk/public/v1/reports/b5ebf7d0-ee7f-487a-80ae-b5bd49171786?20220330070053