Multi-million-pound mental health care home for teenagers trips up on door fittings and staff knowledge, inspectors find

Fitzroy House has been rated as "requires improvement" by CQC inspectors.
Fitzroy House has been rated as "requires improvement" by CQC inspectors.

Care at a new £45million home for adolescents at a Northampton mental health hospital has fallen short because of staff shortages and poorly-fitted doors, a report says.

Fitzroy House, which opened in January at St Andrew's Hospital, in Billing Road, was rated as "requires improvement" in a report published on August 7 by the CQC.

At the time of inspection, patients are the flagship care service for child and young people reportedly could not access drinks freely and had to ask staff for water.

Inspectors also found that internal doors at the multi-million-pound care home had to be "firmly closed" by staff or else they would spring back open, which could delay staff hurrying to get to another ward in an incident.

Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “Many of the young people admitted to St Andrew’s Healthcare are extremely vulnerable and have severe mental health problems and a history of behaviour that has put themselves or others at risk. This is why it is vital that standards are improved urgently where required.

“People deserve to be treated in services which are safe, caring, effective, well-led, and responsive to their needs and this is what we look at when we carry out our inspections. We will continue to monitor these services closely, particularly the men’s and adolescent’s services, and this will include further inspections."

The report comes as part of a wider inspection carried out in May and June that also branded St Andrew's men's services as "inadequate".

Staff were criticised for their 'minimal knowledge' on the law surrounding a patient's capacity to make their own decisions, as well as on hospital values.

But some staff said they felt undervalued by senior staff throughout the organisation and that they were under "excessive pressure" to meet hospital objectives.

Despite recruitment campaigns by St Andrew's, shortfalls in staff were noted across many services at the hospital during the inspectio. At Fitzroy House, each ward had only one qualified nurse on duty throughout night shifts.

A spokesperson from St Andrew's said: "While we were rated ‘good’ for our child and adolescent mental health services being safe, caring and responsive to patients’ needs, we are disappointed that the CQC concluded that two domains required improvement.

“We have also taken steps to address the CQC’s concerns and enhance the care we offer our young patients in the hope that we can regain our overall ‘good’ rating for this service as quickly as possible.

St Andrew's neuropsychiatry and women's services were both rated as "good" during the same inspection.

Staff at St Andrew's were praised by inspectors for involving patients, their families and their carers in care plans, and the hospital was consistently rated "good" for providing a "caring and responsive" service.

However, leadership at Fitzroy House and the hospital's men's service were both rated poorly.

The CQC will revisit St Andrew's in December.