HEALTH service watchdogs have raised a number of concerns over the standards of care provided at a specialist North East hospital for people with mental health problems.
Inspectors at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have demanded improvements in several aspects of the service at St George’s Park Hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland.
They have found failings in how the hospital cares for patients safely and protects them from harm, and in standards of staffing and management at the facility.
In particular, they have highlighted problems with the safe handling and management of medicines, concerns over potentially unsafe or unsuitable premises, a shortage of staff and a failure to keep accurate and appropriate patient records.
However, the CQC says the hospital is meeting national standards on providing the care, treatment and support that meets patients’ needs, treating them with respect and involving them in their care.
The flagship hospital, which is run by the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and opened in 2006, provides a range of mental health services, including acute adult admission and treatment, a mother and baby unit and rehabilitation and behavioural development.
Its specialities include treating dementia and caring for people with mental health conditions or whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act.
The CQC report, which follows a visit to St George’s Park in November, says inspectors found that patients’ views and experiences were taken into account in the way their care services are provided and delivered. Also, patients’ needs were assessed and care and treatment was planned and delivered in line with their individual care plan.
However, the inspection found that patients were not fully protected against the risks associated with medicines, and that the hospital didn’t have appropriate arrangements to manage medicines.
Concerns included a lack of arrangements to ensure medicines were removed from general use when they had reached their expiry date. Staff were unable to tell inspectors who had responsibility for checking expiry dates and ensure medicines were still safe to dispense.