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Mental health trust has improved care, say regulators

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The largest provider of NHS mental health and community services in the country has improved the quality and safety of its services, regulators have concluded.

The regulatory body Monitor yesterday issued a formal statement recognising Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’s progress in fixing problems previously identified by the Care Quality Commission.

The statement follows a confirmation from the CQC that patient care has improved.

“These improvements need to be uniform and long-lasting”

Paul Street

Earlier this year, the CQC gave the trust an overall rating of “requires improvement” – thought it was rated “good” for being caring and responsive.

The numbers of staff and skill mix on some mental health wards were highlighted as a concern, with staff working longer than their contracted hours, and community services did not always have enough staff.

In addition, inspectors raised concerns about the safety of patients at Ravenswood House, a secure hospital at Fareham. They concluded the building was unfit for use and that some wards had ligature points.

However, despite making improvements since the CQC’s report was published in February, the trust is still subject to regulatory action for two issues.

It needs to demonstrate that ongoing improvements to the way it is run, and to its learning disabilities services in Oxfordshire, will be long-lasting, said Monitor.

Its Slade House unit for people with learning difficulties in Headington, Oxfordshire, has been closed since 2013, after a teenager drowned in a bath.

Paul Streat, regional director at Monitor, said: “We welcome the confirmation from the CQC that the quality of services provided by Southern Health has improved. But these improvements need to be uniform and long-lasting.

“The trust still faces regulatory action because of previous concerns with the way it is run and the Oxfordshire learning disability services it offers,” he said.

The trust mainly covers Hampshire, though it also operates some services in Southampton, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Buckinghamshire.

It provides community health, specialist mental health and learning disability services.

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