STRUCTURE: Monitor has taken regulatory action at Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust over concerns the board was not “performing effectively”.

The trust board has given legally binding undertakings it will address potential breaches of it license with Monitor. The intervention is the first time Monitor has made use of its new licencing powers that were introduced by the Health Act on 1 April.

The regulator acted after the Care Quality Commission found concerns at the mental health and community services provider’s Minterne Ward. After reviewing the trust’s handling of the concerns Monitor concluded it had potentially breached its licence by failing to address issues over a long period of time.

The undertakings require the trust complies with all remaining CQC recommendations, commissions an independent review of governance arrangements, and provide Monitor with external assurance underlying issues.

Monitor’s managing director for provider regulation Stephen Hay said: “The trust has failed to tackle long-standing quality issues and we are concerned that this indicates that the board is not performing effectively.

“Monitor has acted in the best interests of patients to ensure that the trust takes urgent action and will hold it to account if it fails to make the necessary improvements.”

CQC inspectors found the secure inpatient facility at the Forston Clinic was failing 10 standards, including consent to care and treatment, cleanliness and staffing. The regulator issued an enforcement notice on the trust on 21 February and the trust closed the ward  to new admissions.

It reopened earlier this week and has been renamed the Waterston Assessment Unit.

Dorset Healthcare chief executive Paul Sly said the trust was now confident in the quality of care at the Waterston Assessment Unit and had held an open day to reassure patients.

He said: “We deeply regret previous failures to address the issues identified on Minterne Ward in a fast and efficient manner. This was for a number of reasons all of which have now been resolved. Since then, we have invested a huge amount of time, energy and resource to make sure we now have a service that we can take pride in and which we would happily have our friends and family treated in.”