An NHS Trust based in Prestwich does not have enough staff to keep patients safe according to an independent review by the health and social care watchdog.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted a focused inspection of Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust’s adult mental health services in April.
The inspection was carried out at the trust, based at Prestwich Hospital, after the CQC received concerning information about the safety and quality of the services provided.
The inspection reviewed the safety of the trusts’s community-based mental health services of adults of working age in April and concluded the service’s provision in this area was “inadequate”.
The inspection concluded safety standards at the service had deteriorated after a previous inspection of community-based mental health services for adults in 2019, which gave safety in this area a rating of “requires improvement”.
Safety is one five areas in which services can be assessed, and the trust currently holds an overall rating of “good” in every area except its safety.
The CQC’s report, published in June, says “the service did not have enough care coordinators and support staff to keep patients safe.”
It added: “The staffing levels did not meet the high demand for the service.
“This meant that there was a significant waiting time for initial assessment and to be allocated to a care coordinator.”
Inspectors also found the service had high vacancy rates with high levels of sickness among staff, many of whom managers say were away due in part to work-related illnesses.
The report concluded that referrals, including urgent referrals, were not always seen promptly and the service often missed the 21-day routine referral target set by the Manchester Heath and Care Commissioning.
However, inspectors noted the percentage of discharged inpatients staff followed-up with within 72 hours was 82 per cent, which exceeded the trust target of 80 per cent.
The CQC has told the trust it must ensure all patients have an up to date risk assessment and must ensure that systems and processes are in place to ensure safeguarding alerts are acted upon promptly.
It has also recommended the hospital consider a staffing establishment review to ensure demand meets capacity.
Deborah Partington, chief operating officer at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We acknowledge the findings of the CQC’s inspection of two of our Central Manchester-based community mental health teams and will address the concerns within their report.
“Before the inspection, we were aware of the challenges faced by Central Manchester’s mental health teams and there are already plans in place to improve waiting times for service users.
“In line with the national picture, recruitment of registered professionals for community mental health teams is increasingly difficult and this inevitably puts pressure on the capacity of services.
“Therefore, we are looking at ways to make roles attractive for newly-qualified and experienced staff to want to join our teams, including supporting roles.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of our communities which has led to an increase in demand for our services and we are also seeing higher levels of mental illness which is requiring more intensive care and support.
“However, we have a process whereby we review, prioritise and monitor individuals who are waiting for assessment and treatment, with face to face appointments for those who are in the most urgent need of support.
“We are also making better use of technology and using a management and supervision tool which helps mental health professionals review key data to identify the risks of a service user going into a crisis, which is vital when working with sizeable caseloads.
“Our staff have had a very challenging two years and therefore we are delivering projects on staff health and wellbeing to support those who are at work to remain well and to help those who are off sick to return when they are recovered, as safely as possible.
“Along with our partners, we will continue to work as hard as we can to improve our services for those who need us, and we would like to reassure people that service users in our care are safe.
“We monitor the safety and risk of service users very carefully and prioritise those who need urgent help or a safeguarding risk.
“There are processes in place for service users to contact our teams when they need to, as well as a 24/7 helpline for anyone in an immediate mental health crisis.”
Source: Bury Times, 26th July 2022