A mental health trust has had its rating upgraded by a watchdog, even though it was failing on safety and not meeting three legal requirements.

The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) was rated 'good' overall after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected three of its 15 services.

It was previously rated 'requires improvement', after a 2019 inspection.

Inspectors said last week that NELFT had “made significant progress”, with “many more” patients receiving “the right care at the right time”.

“There was a recognition that there was still much more to do but the progress was evident,” they wrote.

Among the 12 services they did not inspect was community-based care in London, found to be understaffed and to have made mistakes at a series of recent inquests.

NELFT serves Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Essex and Kent.

During pre-announced inspections of three services in June (acute wards, psychiatric intensive care and services for young people in Kent), inspectors identified three areas which “must” be fixed in order to meet legal requirements.

First, not all staff had completed mandatory training.

Second, risk assessments for young people were not being consistently applied.

Third, initial assessment and treatment times for young people were too long.

The trust was nonetheless rated 'good' for four out of five key criteria: caring, effective, responsive and well-led.

But it was rated 'requires improvement' for safety.

The CQC’s report said that “recruitment was an ongoing challenge” and staff in managerial roles were “having difficulties covering their clinical work so they could focus on their leadership responsibilities”.

Among the improvements the CQC recommended was to “ensure that an appropriate team is in place to appropriately support medical staffing”.

Jacqui Van Rossum, NELFT’s acting chief executive, described the report as “a significant step towards our overall ambition to be rated as outstanding”.

Acting chairperson Sultan Taylor said the rating “reassures our local communities that we are delivering high-quality care”.

Chief nurse Wellington Makala said the trust was “working through a plan to ensure all teams are up to date with their mandatory training”.