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Sussex mental health trust ‘has made significant steps’

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A mental health trust in Sussex has improved its performance across three key areas, according to regulators, but must get better at supporting staff, risk assessment and governance.

The Care Quality Commission told Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust that it had made significant progress since its last inspection, but must now make further improvements.

“The trust had made a concerted effort to improve staffing levels”

Paul Lelliott

During the last comprehensive inspection of the trust in January 2015, inspectors rated four of 11 core services as “requires improvement”.

After this latest inspection, three of those core services were judged to have moved from being “requires improvement” to “good”.

These three were wards for people with a learning disability or autism, long stay/rehabilitation mental health wards for working age adults, and the child and adolescent mental health ward.

Overall, CQC rated the trust as “requires improvement”. At a more detailed level, the regulator also said improvements were needed for services to be consistently safe, effective and well led.

In the CQC’s new report on Sussex Partnership, published today, the inspection team said it identified a number of specific areas where the trust must make improvements.

For example, it must ensure that each patient or person using the service has a complete, and updated risk assessment.

Likewise, the trust must ensure the governance systems provide sufficient oversight around clinical risks, such as physical healthcare, risk assessment and medicines optimisation.

“The CQC have told us we’re making good progress and are heading in the right direction”

Colm Donaghy

The trust must also ensure staff are following trust policy around the safe handling of medicines requiring cold storage, to ensure these are safe for use, said the CQC.

In addition, it should ensure sufficient systems were in place to monitor training, appraisal and supervision to ensure staff received the “appropriate level of support in their work”.

However, the CQC said that the trust provided services that were “good” for being caring and responsive. The inspectors also highlighted a number of areas of good practice.

These included the patient-run Badgers Café at the Hellingly Centre and the Lighthouse recovery support service, which had a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning group.

In addition, the trust was praised for having an award for proactive ideas. One team was recently nominated for producing “twiddle mitts” that patients held to help to reduce anxiety and promote calm.

Care Quality Commission

Dr Paul Lelliott

Paul Lelliott

Meanwhile, Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, highlighted that Sussex Partnership had progress towards meeting government guidance on eliminating mixed-sex accommodation.

“However, on wards for older people with mental health problems there were still mixed-sex wards that were not always managed in accordance with Department of Health guidance,” he said. “We also concluded that the trust must do more to improve patients’ access to psychological therapy.”

However, Mr Lelliott noted that at the time of the last inspection in 2015, some of the trust’s senior managers were “fairly new”.

“During this inspection, many of the previously identified actions had been taken and improvements had been made services. This was particularly noticeable in the ward for people with a learning disability at the Selden Centre and long stay/rehabilitation mental health wards for working age adults,” he said.

“The trust had made a concerted effort to improve staffing levels to ensure that wards were safely staffed,” he said. “Our inspectors found the majority of staff to be caring, kind and respectful towards patients, people who use services and their carers.

“They also involved them in decisions about their care,” he said. “For these reasons, we rated all of the core services as good for caring and the child and adolescent mental health wards as outstanding.”

He added: “It is quite apparent that staff and the leadership team of Sussex Partnership have made significant steps to improve the quality of service and care within the trust and this is to be applauded.”

Colm Donaghy

Colm Donaghy

Source: Sussex Partnership

Colm Donaghy

Trust chief executive Colm Donaghy said: “I want to thank staff for everything they have done to use the CQC’s feedback from their last inspection to help us continue improving services for patients. This is, after all, the whole point of this process.

“The CQC have told us we’re making good progress and are heading in the right direction,” he said. “I think we’re really close to being rated ‘good’ and I hope this is the view the CQC reach when they come back to inspect us again.”

The trust provides mental health services in Sussex, and also specialist community mental health services for children and young people into Hampshire and Kent and Medway.

Within Sussex, it serves a population of approximately 1.6 million people and employs around 3,800 staff.

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