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Two 'exemplar' mental health trusts rated outstanding by CQC


Two large mental health trusts have become the first from their sector in the country to be rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and East London NHS Foundation Trust have both been given the CQC’s highest rating.

“I am hoping the two trusts will be exemplars for other mental health trusts”

Paul Lelliott

The regulator completed the first wave of comprehensive inspections for mental health trusts using its new approach in July.

The CQC’s lead for mental health and deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Paul Lelliott, praised the leadership of both trusts and said he hoped the organisations would be “exemplars” to other providers in the sector as well as offering them advice on best practice.

Dr Lelliott said: “The bar to be rated outstanding is set quite high. We need to be impressed by what we find to rate a trust as outstanding.

“The thing these two trusts had in common was the quality and style of leadership,” he said. “What we found was a very open culture where the leadership teams really valued the input and initiative of shown by frontline staff.

Care Quality Commission

Dr Paul Lelliott

Paul Lelliott

“I am hoping the two trusts will be exemplars for other mental health trusts and will be sharing what they have done with the rest of the providers and be something other trusts aspire to,” he told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal.

So far 17 mental health trusts have been rated as good – including Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which merged with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in July – while 29 have been rated requires improvement.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is the only mental health trust to be put in special measures after being rated inadequate in February last year.

Five mental health trusts are waiting for the results of their inspections to be published: Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, North East London NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The CQC rated Northumberland, Tyne and Wear as outstanding for being effective, caring, responsive, and well led, and good for being safe, following the two week inspection in June.

According to their report on the trust, the inspectors found:

  • Assessment of patients’ needs was holistic and identified potential risks, with care plans developed with patients and carers to meet their needs
  • The trust was open and transparent about safety and staff were encouraged to report incidents
  • Robust processes were in place to keep adults and children safe and protected from abuse
  • Minimum staffing levels in mental health inpatient areas were agreed at a level to meet the assessed needs of patients

However, the trust was told it should review: its use of mechanical restraint, the physical environment of the Alnwood medium secure children and young people’s inpatient service, and the training of staff on mental health resuscitation.

Trust chief executive John Lawlor said the trust will take the CQC’s recommendations seriously but he was “delighted” with the rating.

Northumberland, Tyne and Weir Mental Health Trust

John Lawlor

John Lawlor

He added: “We have had a very detailed inspection and every single service has got at least a good. It’s not just the overall story, it’s across the full range of our services.

“We don’t get everything right. As pleased as we are – and we are delighted, particularly for our staff – we don’t have all the answers for everything,” he said.

East London was given an “outstanding” rating for being caring, responsive and well led, and rated good for being safe and effective.

In its report on the trust, the CQC said its inspectors found:

  • The trust had a “visionary” board and senior leadership team
  • Staff worked with patients and carers to draw up care plans and provide “holistic” care
  • A low vacancy rate for the London region with safe staffing levels maintained most of the time
  • The trust had a reducing restrictive practices board working to ensure that physical interventions were only used as a last resort
  • Serious incidents were investigated to a high standard, patients knew how to complain and complaints were taken seriously and investigated thoroughly

Dr navina evans 3x2

Dr navina evans 3x2

Navina Evans

The trust was also told it must improve by making changes to the alarm system in the learning disability ward to avoid “distressing” the patients; improve waiting times for memory clinics; and ensure care plans for patients with challenging behaviours have positive behaviour approaches.

Trust chief executive Navina Evans said she was proud that the “passion and talents” of staff had been recognised.

Dr Evans, who took over the role in August following Robert Dolan’s retirement, added: “We have worked very hard to ensure we provide a high standard of care and we continuously review what we do to learn to do it better.”


Readers' comments (3)

  • “The thing these two trusts had in common was the quality and style of leadership,” he said. “What we found was a very open culture where the leadership teams really valued the input and initiative of shown by frontline staff."


    That in no way reflects the NTW I worked for in its various iterations for over 25 years, in fact the opposite was true: frontline staff were ignored, belittled, harassed by management apparatchicks; those who did not spout the "official line" were sidelined and eased out of their jobs; reports by external experts into poor management were "disappeared"; staffing levels in my old service were cut to the point that it was not possible to provide any sort of adequate service, let alone a good one; micro-management by mangers who had NO clinical experience in the relevant area, aside from being the spouse of a director, was the order of the day...

    The CQC are really lacking in any sort of credibility if they can give NTW an excellent rating and make those sort of positive comments about it. I thought they were pretty much lacking that after my very good indeed GP practice (I know it personally and professionally) was heavily criticised, but this takes the biscuit...

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  • Someone receiving a backhander probably

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  • The CQC have no credibility, they are just destroying anything that gets in their way of what they call progress.
    Small GP surgeries are being forced to close in favour of conveyor belt surgeries where the quality of care, if indeed you can get an appointment in the first place, is atrocious.
    My surgery was voted the best in our area but now the CQC want to do a structural inspection, they just don't know when to butt out. They rate hospitals as excellent even when they cannot get a diagnosis right, where patients fall out of windows, it is really scary!
    The sooner this useless organisation goes, the better.

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