A LOCAL NHS trust that has battled for years to turn itself around after being publicly shamed for the deaths of patients in its care has been awarded a ‘good’ rating by inspectors.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has seen bosses come and go, Whitehall intervention, and been hauled before the courts since a series of fatalities were exposed in 2015 with the help of campaigning relatives.
Its previous overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ has now been upgraded by the Care Quality Commission to ‘good’– the second best of four.
The trust is based at Tatchbury Mount, near Totton, and provides mental health services in Hampshire. It employs more than 5,900 staff, and is responsible for hospitals at Lymington, Hythe and Fordingbridge.
The improved CQC rating comes after a visit by inspectors in October last year to check acute wards and intensive care units for children and adults, and whether the trust was now well led after years of failure.
As reported in the A&T, in 2016 its chief executive Katrina Percy resigned and in 2018 it was fined £2m in a Health and Safety Executive prosecution, including the case of Emery Down woman Teresa Colvin who died at the former Woodhaven unit from a ligature incident.
One of the notable findings by the CQC was that “significant work” had been done to minimise ligature risks, including to fittings such as curtains and door censors.
Dr Kevin Cleary, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, praised the trust, saying: “Patients’ needs came first, and staff worked hard to deliver the best possible care with compassion and respect.
“The trust did face some challenges and there are still some areas of improvement required but there has been a significant improvement in the services at this trust. Staff, patients and the leadership team should be proud of the work done so far.”
In the sub-category of “being effective” the trust was rated as ‘requires improvement’.
However, it was ‘good’ for being safe, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well led. Over 90% of services were rated as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
The CQC said the board had improved the trust’s culture and morale, and senior staff members had worked closely with families who had previously suffered poor experiences.
Staff caseloads were not too high to give proper attention to patients, and those who needed urgent treatment were seen promptly.
Some improvement required by the last inspection had not been made, however, including making sure that female-designated lounges were not used by males, that patients could make phone calls in private, or that all staff understood their responsibilities under the Mental Capacity Act.
Trust chief executive Dr Nick Broughton said: “I am very encouraged by the report published today. It reflects the significant strides we have made to improve the quality and safety of all services.
“It also highlights how hard we have worked to ensure we better involve families and carers in the care of our patients and service users.”
The report was a step towards reaching “outstanding” status, he said, and to provide “world class services”.