Patient safety concerns at Sheffield health trust

An inspection report published today by the Care Quality Commission finds that Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust requires improvement.  Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
An inspection report published today by the Care Quality Commission finds that Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust requires improvement. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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A Sheffield health trust has been ordered to improve by England’s chief hospitals inspector after a three-day inspection.

Staff shortages and concerns about how medication is managed at services provided by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust require urgent attention, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission.

Mental health services are one of the Trust’s specialist areas but among inspectors’ concerns was a seclusion room on one ward which was unclean, had a blind spot in one corner and outside the room the heating controls were broken and a clock, for patients to use the time to orientate themselves was not working.

Inspectors also found potential risks, that had not been identified by staff, from fixtures that could be used by patients to harm themselves.

The CQC found great variation in service delivery, rating the Trust’s forensic inpatient services “outstanding” and its mental health crisis services, wards for older people with mental health problems and community mental health services for older people as “good”.

Overall, the Trust “requires improvement”.

Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “We have found significant variation in the quality of the services provided by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

“While there were examples of good practice and innovation in some of the services, we also saw other services where more needed to be done to make sure that care and treatment consistently met the required standard. Staff shortages in some services posed a risk that patients’ needs would not always be met in a timely maner and concerns were also raised regarding medicines management. These issues require urgent attention to bring them up to acceptable standards.

“The trust’s forensic mental health services proactively promoted patient’s recovery from admission through to discharge and staff took all practical steps to minimise restrictions on patients.

“People are entitled to services which are consistently safe, effective, caring and responsive to their needs. The trust has told us they have listened to our inspectors’ findings and have begun to take action where it is required. The trust has a clear governance structure with effective communication between the senior management and frontline staff therefore I expect the trust’s leadership team to drive improvements to address all areas of concern. We will return in due course to check that the improvements have been made.”

Responding to the inspection report which has been published today, Kevan Taylor, chief executive of the Trust, said: “We welcome the reports from the CQC. As a former social worker and a carer in my personal life I know what it feels like to both work in and receive services. I fully acknowledge that while we strive to provide a quality service to the people of Sheffield and beyond, there are areas where we know we need to improve and the CQC inspection offers us a further opportunity to reflect, learn and make improvements.

“I am deeply proud of our staff’s enduring commitment to provide quality patient-led care and I am delighted to see this acknowledged by both the inspection team and our service users. Our staff continue to be our greatest asset.

“The inspectors found many areas of good practice. However, there are areas of concern that have been highlighted in the report and a number of those are significant. Some of the concerns raised were already areas identified by our quality improvement plans. It is important to note that the inspection took place in October 2014. We have already taken a number of actions to improve services and this work will continue.”

The CQC has set the Trust 11 “must do” actions and seven “should do” actions across its clinical services.

Mr Taylor added: “We will revise our existing action plan to take account of the findings in the CQC’s reports. These will be agreed with our partners across Sheffield along with the timetable for completion.”

The Trust will agree an action plan which addresses the key concerns highlighted in the report at a board meeting in July.