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South Yorkshire children’s hospital must improve on mental health, says CQC

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Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has been told it must improve child and adolescent mental health services, following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors found the trust had made improvements in many areas since their last visit – including out-of-hours staffing – but rated children’s mental health services as “requires improvement”.

“We are putting plans in place to make sure our services as good as possible”

Sally Shearer

In particular, they raised concerns about safeguarding practices and steps taken to manage young patients’ behaviour on the wards.

Inspectors also highlighted staffing shortages in specialist community mental health services for children, with vulnerable youngsters waiting too long between referral to treatment.

“The trust must ensure staffing levels are sufficient to enable young people to access treatment within timescales set out in trust and NHS national targets,” said the CQC’s report.

However, the inspection also identified examples of outstanding practice, such as a pilot scheme linking children’s mental health services with 10 schools.

Meanwhile, community health services provided by the trust were rated “good” overall, matching the “good” ratings held by its hospital site and the organisation as a whole.

Likewise, all services – including community and inpatient children’s mental health services – were rated “good” for being caring.

The inspectors found the trust had successfully addressed some issues identified at a previous inspection in May 2014, including concerns about out-of-hours hospital cover.

“We identified that the trust must ensure the hospital cover out of hours was sufficiently staffed by competent staff with the right skill mix, particularly in the emergency department,” said the report which confirmed that the issue had subsequently been addressed.

Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust

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Sally Shearer

Sally Shearer, the trust’s director of nursing and quality, acknowledged there was room for further improvement.

“We welcome the positive comments in the report and the recognition of the caring services we provide,” she said.

“We agree there are areas where we can improve and we are putting plans in place to make sure we continue to make our services as good for patients and their families as possible,” she added.

The trust has pledged to put together an action plan to address the issues identified by the CQC. This will include specific plans for areas including mental health services, safeguarding and staffing.

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