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Waiting lists for young people with severe mental health problems slashed as NHS watchdog rates care as 'good'

Posted on 19/02/2018 by

Mental Health

A report on North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare has just been published


Young people battling serious mental health problems are getting much better support after waiting lists were slashed.

That’s the verdict of a new inspection report, which looks at care across a range of in-patient and community specialist services run by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

It reveals ‘impressive’ improvements in reducing the period that children and teenagers have to wait for help. All the referrals are now being handled within the 18-week national target time. And they also have rapid access to psychiatrists.

But the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found youngsters facing crises outside of normal office hours were expected to use A&E or contact an all-ages access team.

Overall, the report rates the trust’s work as good, with some examples of outstanding practice.

Major strengths include the ‘dignity, respect and compassion’ that staff show when treating patients. The report states: “It was clear from the many conversations we observed that staff knew their patients well and had built strong relationships.”

In-patients are also allowed to personalise their bedrooms and are actively involved in making decisions about their care.

Among the excellent services are those offered to adults on long-stay or rehabilitation mental health wards. The support continues after they are discharged, with some former patients coming back to visit the wards.

Combined Healthcare’s chief executive, Caroline Donovan, today put the success down to the ‘sheer determination, talent, dedication and ability of our fantastic staff’.

She added: “We are simply delighted at this recognition by the CQC that our journey of improvement continues.”

But the inspectors found safety procedures still required improvement at the trust. Issues included unclear labelling of medicines, some fridge temperatures outside the recommended range for safe storage and examples of opening dates for liquid medicine not being recorded.

The NHS trust, which has around 1,400 staff, operates from a variety of locations, including Harplands Hospital in Hartshill.

It has 190 in-patient beds across 12 wards, 15 of which are for children and young people. Alongside mental health services, it supports adults with learning disabilities and provides services for people needing substance misuse treatment.

Paul Lelliott (CRRCT), the CQC’s deputy chief inspector for hospitals and the lead for mental health, said: “Overall, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare provides good care to the large population that it serves. The trust can be proud of many of the services that it manages.

“We found staff to be dedicated, kind, caring and patient-focused. The local management and leadership of services were both knowledgeable and visible.

“Staff we talked to during the inspection spoke highly of their managers and told us that a more positive and open culture had continued to develop.”

Grant Williams, from Clayton, was a carer for many years and is still heavily involved in championing mental health issues locally.

He said: "This is still big room for improvement. I just hope they take things on board. They need to fill holes in services."

Source: StokeSentinel