Huntercombe Hospital to move out of special measures

Huntercombe Hospital in Stafford is set to come out of special measures.

The facility for children with mental health needs was rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission in August 2016.

At that time, inspectors found there was no effective system in place to safeguard the well-being of patients and there were serious concern regarding the staffing, management and clinical practice at the hospital.

On a return visit to the hospital, they found that changes had been implemented, and that young people found the staff to be caring, supportive and respectful.

CQC's Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (and lead for mental health), Dr Paul Lelliott, said: "Previously we were concerned that the safety of young people using the service was compromised due to insufficient staffing levels, restrictive interventions, poor physical health monitoring and a poorly trained and supervised workforce.  

"At that time, feedback from young people and their carers was largely negative and reflected a hospital that did not take into account the individual needs of those using the service.

"When we returned we found that the hospital had introduced training to reduce the dependency of staff on restraint and other restrictive practices. 

"Senior staff reviewed incidents daily and shared any learning from these. Also, staff assessed the physical health care needs of young people and made sure that patients' views were reflected in care planning.

"The hospital has clearly benefitted from the support it received from the special measures regime. 

"We will continue to monitor the service and will return to check on the progress of the further improvements that need to be made." 

Valerie Michie, Chief Executive of The Huntercombe Group, said: "We are pleased that the Care Quality Commission is lifting the hospital out of special measures. 

"I would like to acknowledge the dedicated work by the hospital team that has significantly improved the care of their young patients."

Inspectors have recommended further improvements, including:

  • Ensuring policies and training on rapid tranquilisation are up to date with NICE guidance.
  • Introducing management structure to encompass therapy staff and provide ongoing support through supervision and appraisals.
  • Ensuring clinical staff are trained in the Mental Health Act and revised code of practice.
  • Put provisions in place to allow young people to summon help in an emergency if they are unable to call out to staff.


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