Still work to do at Northampton mental health hospital to shake 'inadequate' tag, inspector finds

St Andrews Healthcare is making progress following an inadequate rating last year.
St Andrews Healthcare is making progress following an inadequate rating last year.

Managers are still not providing enough supervision at a Northampton mental health hospital after the facility’s damning 'inadequate' rating last year.

Inspectors issued St Andrews Healthcare with a warning notice last year after finding failings in a number of areas.

The CQC says there are still areas in need of improvement.

The CQC says there are still areas in need of improvement.

They pointed to an “oppressive culture” at St Andrew's Hospital, where staff had felt afraid to speak out or raise concerns.

And they also found staff were trained in two different ways of managing aggression and restraint, which posed a risk to both staff and patients in a potential incident.

It led to the care provider being given an "inadequate" rating in August last year, which made it subject to regular inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CGC).

The latest interim report by the care watchdog, released this week, showed improvements were being made.

“Managers and staff ensured that wards were clean, maintained and well-furnished,” the report reads.

Staff had improved in completing risk assessments for all patients and St Andrews had “addressed the issue of staff being trained in two types of restraint technique”.

“At the time of our visit, 91% of staff in the men’s service had completed Management of Actual and Potential Aggression training,” the inspectors added.

Staff also demonstrated “a good understanding of safeguarding practices”.

But the interim report, which did not provide an updated rating of the hospital and was written following a visit in January, found there were still failings in management and the way secluded patients - those isolated from the main wards because of behavioural issues - were managed.

Records reviewed did not always include “sufficient recording” to demonstrate Mental Health Act code of practices had been met.

It also stated that managerial supervision was not effective in two wards in particular.

The inspectors wrote: “Managers were not supervising staff in line with the providers' management supervision policy introduced in forensic inpatient/secure wards.”

The report did state efforts were being made to improve the visibility of managers on the ward, with senior managers attending staff handovers once a fortnight to improve contact with their frontline staff.

However, one of six staff asked whether they had "experienced bullying" reported a case where they felt a colleague had.

The five others reported "positive morale", according to the CQC.

St Andrew's is due for a full re-inspection at the end of this month, which will also see the facility re-rated.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: "This (latest) inspection was not designed as a re-rate inspection, therefore ratings were not changed.

"We are really pleased with the report and the progress we have made since their last visit.

"The CQC have highlighted two areas we need to focus on before their next inspection at the end of this month, and we are working hard to address these. Both of these concerns relate to data, and the way we record things on our systems.

"Of course, there is always room for improvement, and we continue to find ways of innovating and improving our patient care."