Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been told to improve, after the Care Quality Commission found the trust had no plan in place to tackle the high rate of suicide in the area.
The regulator also found “significant gaps” in the mental health trust’s training and supervision of some staff, as well as in its learning from serious incidents. The trust was found to “lack strategic direction”.
“We have been talking with patients, public and staff about the steps we need to take to improve patient care”
The trust was rated “requires improvement” by the regulator across all areas apart from being rated good for whether services were caring.
Some areas of care in learning disability and older people’s inpatient services required “urgent attention” to improve safety standards. The inspectors found that ligature risks were not always identified and hygiene standards were poor.
The CQC found an “elevated risk” of people self-harming and suicide. The regulator’s report stated: “Many of these deaths happened whilst people were in receipt of services in the community.”
The inspectors found there was an “elevated risk” of suicide within three days of discharge and within three days of being admitted to an acute setting. There were 80 deaths between November 2013 and October 2014.
The report said: “Whilst we recognise that it is not just the trust’s responsibility to develop a suicide prevention plan, we would urge the trust to initiate urgent work with public health and community agencies to address this.”
Inspectors also found that serious incidents were not being dealt with in a timely manner, with some investigations taking approximately 220 days.
The CQC asked the trust to close one of its rehabilitation facilities, Hanover Crescent, because of an “unsafe” environment with “poor conditions of hygiene” and low staffing levels. The trust complied immediately.
“We would urge the trust to initiate urgent work with public health and community agencies to address this”
The senior management team were “very positive” about the new chief executive, Colm Donaghy, and that after having been through a “difficult and challenging period”, the “culture of the board had changed for the better”.
Mr Donaghy said: “The CQC highlights services where the level of caring is outstanding and where staff are compassionate, kind and motivated to go the extra mile for the people they serve. Our challenge is to achieve this consistently across all our services.
“We’ve addressed areas where the inspection team raised concerns about the patient environment, improved the way we deliver staff training, and have been talking with patients, public and staff about the steps we need to take to improve patient care,” he said.
Paul Lelliott, the CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said there was “considerable variation” in the quality of services provided by the trust.
He added that it was “reassuring” that the new leadership team had already identified the problems at the trust and had made steps to improve since the inspection.