Northampton mental health hospital for men shakes off major failings but is still below standard, says inspectors

St Andrew's Men's Service has bounced back from an "inadequate" rating - but still has a long way to go.
St Andrew's Men's Service has bounced back from an "inadequate" rating - but still has a long way to go.

Inspectors say a Northampton mental health hospital has shaken off a list of failings pointed out in a damning report last year - but still has a long way to go.

St Andrew's Hospital's men's service was branded "inadequate" by inspectors in a scathing report last year that found failings in cleanliness, patient safety and pointed to an "oppressive culture" for staff.

But in the latest report by the CQC, the hospital has bounced back from the poor rating and has even been scored "good" in some areas.

In particular, staff were praised for treating patients with "kindness, compassion and respect". The report also noted that staff were "confident they could raise concerns without fear of reprisals", in contrast to the "oppressive culture" found a year ago.

However, inspectors have criticised the hospital's seclusion policies and a lack of personalised evacuation plans for patients.

And despite being flagged multiple times in the past, inspectors were still able to find unidentified anchors on wards - points where patients intent of self-harm might tie something to strangle themselves.

A roll of plastic bin bags was also found on a ward, which posed a threat to patient safety. Vital equpiment had not been tested and the decorating on one older adults ward was "poor and smelled unlpeasant".

As a result, the hospital's men's care has been graded as "required improvements" in a new report published June 6.

The report reads: "There was no out of hours physical healthcare provision on site... The provider had not ensured that patients’ physical healthcare needs were met in accordance with care plans.

"Seclusion practices were not compliant with the Mental Health Act... Staff had not completed seclusion care plans for patients in 70% of records checked.

"[However] staff treated patients with kindness, compassion and respect [and were] open and transparent."

The report also noted there were insufficient numbers of staff to provide safe care, treatment and access to leave and activities on the forensic, older adults and learning disabilities wards.

Dean Howells, executive director of nursing and operations, said: "Clearly, there is still a significant amount of work to be done.

"I’d like to thank all of the staff who have worked extremely hard and who have proactively contributed to further initiatives which will deliver meaningful outcomes for our service users and their families, and increase the co-production of care.”