PERFORMANCE: Leeds Community Healthcare Trust has been rated ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors raised concerns about staffing levels across the trust and the safety of one of its units.

Leeds town hall

The trust provides community nursing and mental health services across Leeds

The mental health and community trust was rated as “good” across three areas – for being effective, caring and well led – and as “requires improvement” for the safety and responsiveness of its services.

The inspection report said: “Whilst a number of individual services were judged good, concerns within community inpatient services, and community child and adolescent mental health services, means that overall we have judged the trust as ‘requires improvement’.”

Inspectors raised concern about staffing levels across the trust and its reliance on agency staff, particularly in the South Leeds Independence Centre, a 40 bed rehabilitation unit.

The report said care assistants at the unit were employed by a different organisation, and “at the time of the inspection, due to sickness and vacancies, the unit was down by around a third of care assistant staff”.

It added: “Although bank and agency staff were being used, this was affecting the continuity of care, and workload of the permanent staff that had to support the agency staff.”

Inspectors also found that the “relatively high” use of agency support workers at the unit was “causing some tensions”, and they were “informed that the issue was relatively longstanding”.

Inspectors also “identified risks” at the Little Woodhouse Hall children’s and adolescent mental health services inpatient unit, which had not been noticed by staff.  

“Staff had not identified all the potential risks to patients from fixtures on the ward that could be used by them to self-harm by hanging,” the CQC report said.

“The trust had identified the premises were not suitable, but did not have a clear timescale for moving to new premises or how the present premises could be improved upon whilst they waited for the move.”

However the report concluded that “majority of [the trust’s] premises were suitable”.

The CQC inspected the trust in November, and carried out an announced follow-up inspection on the trust’s child development service later that month.

The CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for community health services, Ellen Armistead, said: “When we inspected the services run by [the trust], we saw a variation in the safety and quality of treatment and care provided.

“There were several examples of good practice in services which were really going the extra mile to improve the support that they provided to people.

“However, we also saw other services where more needed to be done to make sure that care and treatment consistently met the required standard.”

She added the trust to needed to “improve some of [its] premises so that they properly meet people’s needs”.

Trust chief executive Thea Stein said: “The detailed feedback in [the CQC’s] report highlights how compassionate and caring our staff are, that they work to national guidance in the delivery of care, and that staff feel they have good support from their immediate line manager.

She said the trust “already [has] in place specific actions to improve patient safety and responsiveness of services”, including ongoing work to recruit staff and to reduce its use of agency and bank staff.

The trust is also reviewing its estate and is “continuing to work to find a suitable alternative” to provide CAMHS services, she added.