• Mental health and community services trust given requires improvement rating
  • Child and adolescent unit rated inadequate
  • Concerns over lack of action to tackle ligature points

North East London Foundation Trust has been given a ’requires improvement’ rating by the Care Quality Commission after inspectors issued a warning notice resulting in the closure of an inpatient unit.

A team from the CQC visited the community and mental health services provider in April and issued the notice after finding a dangerously understaffed unit for children and adolescents be closed.

The Brookside Unit for children and adolescents is due to be reopened later this month but when inspectors visited, the unit had a 58 per cent vacancy rate for qualified nurses and 41 per cent vacancy rate for healthcare assistants.

North East London FT, which runs services across four London boroughs and parts of Essex, was rated as requiring improvement in four of the five categories used by the CQC, It received a “good” rating for the “caring” category.

Other criticism of Brookside included:

  • an alarm that did not work in one area;
  • wards were not kept clean; and
  • there “was evidence that patients may have been secluded without proper safeguards in place”.

The report also criticised the trust for not taking swift enough action on ligature points.

The £330m turnover organisation employs 6,000 staff and this was its first inspection under the CQC’s new evaluation system.

Deputy chief inspector of hospitals and CQC lead for mental health Paul Lelliot said: ”There are many areas where the trust needs to improve. Also, the trust has not demonstrated that it learns from adverse incidents and has not taken appropriate steps across all of the mental health services to ensure that risks to patients are minimised.

“The trust must provide more training to staff on some important areas. In particular, I am concerned that the Mental Health Act was not part of the mandatory training for all staff in the mental health services. This is particularly important for staff who work regularly with patients who are detained under the act. 

“However, directors and managers demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm to the trust and spoke passionately of the work being undertaken to develop services.”