Independent watchdog slams mental health care services in Brent

Vital health care services across Brent have come under fire after inspectors found mental health patients sleeping on sofas instead of beds and witnessed patients being restrained face-down some 75 occasions each month.

In a shocking report published last week the independent watchdog Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed clinics and hospitals managed by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust ‘required improvement’ across the board and demanded action to ensure patient care could return to ‘safe’ and ‘responsive’ levels following inspections in February.

Centres managed by the Foundation Trust include Park Royal centre for mental health in Acton Lane, Harlesden, the Fairlight Community Rehabilitation Unity in Fairlight Avenue, Harlesden, and the Kingswood Centre in Honeypot Lane, Kingsbury.

Dr Paul Lelliot, CQC deputy director of hospitals, said: “Our greatest concern was the pressure on the mental health wards that admit people of working age. Our inspectors found people sleeping on sofas and in other temporary beds.

“The trust had not increased staffing levels to reflect the pressure on beds. Also ward staff were using physical restraint in the face-down position about 75 times each month. This is not the safest way to restrain a person”.

Whilst inspectors of the 137 wards and clinics managed by the trust found that overall community health care was ‘good’ and sexual health services were rated ‘outstanding’, they also rated care on acute wards and psychiatric intensive care units as ‘inadequate’.

In one case safety inspectors found increased pressure on staff in mental health wards had left them unable to say how they would manage ligature (hanging) risks to patients at high risk of suicide.

Most Read

The report also reveals that in the six months prior to inspections at three acute wards including Park Royal Centre for Mental Health in Harlesden, 82 detained patients absconded whilst receiving inpatient treatment.

Claire Murdoch, the trust’s chief executive, said:“The CQC tested us intensively and have reached their conclusions. We accept their judgements and are glad they strike the balance they do, with some outstandings and a great many goods. We will bring about the improvements they require. None are a complete surprise to us, and are mainly in one service; though when spelled out as they are here they hit me as hard as any reader; improvements are already underway but I am sorry they’re needed.

During the inspection a team of inspectors and specialists including doctors, nurses, managers and experts visited 137 of the trust’s hospital wards and clinics and spoke to 285 patients, relatives and carers as well as 913 members of staff.

The report summary states “ We will be working with the trust to agree an action plan to assist them in improving standards of care and treatment.”