Delays in finding new ward is impacting care for men at Northampton mental health hospital

The "Foster Ward" for adult males in St Andrew's was scolded for putting a planned move over the current care of patients.
The "Foster Ward" for adult males in St Andrew's was scolded for putting a planned move over the current care of patients.

A mental health ward for men is struggling to properly care for its patients because of delays in moving to a new home, inspectors have found.

The adult males of Foster Ward, at Northampton's St Andrew's Hospital, are set to move out of its Grade-II listed building into new accommodation in December this year.

But while leaders and managers focus on the move ahead, the healthcare watchdog has accused the ward of allowing the quality of care to slide.

In a visit in July, the CQC said they were concerned the hospital was overlooking problems at the ward while focussing on the future - but at the "expense" of care for Foster's patients.

Meanwhile, staff told the watchdog they felt "forgotten" and had "given up" on the idea of ever moving.

A report published on September 20 reads: "Senior managers had not ensured that the ward environment was safe and clean and were focused on moving the ward at the expense of ensuring the quality of the ward environment was acceptable.

"We were concerned that the provider had been aware of these issues for a significant period of time and the ward continued to be an unpleasant environment for patients and staff."

Although the visit does not affect the service's rating - which stands at 'Requires Improvment' based on an inspection in March 2018 - the report criticised the ward's cleanliness, leadership and safety.

Inspectors found the ward was "dirty, cluttered and poorly maintained", with worn-out furniture and a strong smell of urine.

But inspectors also found a review of potential 'ligatures' on the ward was overdue - which is a search for "anchor points" on a ward that a patient could use to harm themselves by hanging - at the same time they saw patients using rooms unsupervised.

St Andrew's was ordered to get the cleanliness of Foster Ward under control and make progress in its planned move.

A St Andrew’s spokesperson said: “The safety of our patients is always front and centre of the care we provide.

"The building where our Foster ward is located is Grade II listed. Due to the limitations on this ward we have plans in place to move our patients from this building into modern accommodation, by December this year.

“By taking these steps we will be providing rehabilitation services that are much more suitable for our patients, and we are confident that these new environments will enhance the recovery of the people in our care.”