Mental health trust failed to protect patients at risk of suicide, report finds

Goodmayes Hospital, where Nelft are based.

Goodmayes Hospital, where Nelft are based. - Credit: Archant

Vulnerable patients at risk of hanging themselves were not kept safe by the borough’s mental health trust, an inspection has found.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report into the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft), published today, has determined the trust “requires improvement”.

The report, which follows an inspection in April, was highly critical of the use of restraints on patients and inconsistent access to psychological therapies.

Nelft chief executive John Brouder said: “We are disappointed to say the least, given the number of service areas that were rated as good and the amount of positive feedback in the report.”

A particular concern of the CQC was the trust’s failure to identify anchor points from which patients at risk of suicide could hang themselves, and the fact that Mental Health Act training was not mandatory for all staff on mental health wards.

Services at the Brookside unit at Goodmayes Hospital – Nelft’s child and adolescent mental wards – were heavily criticised.

They were deemed “inadequate” in safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership, with inspectors reporting a lack of clear policy for monitoring and searching patients.

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Following the inspection, the trust announced it was closing Brookside temporarily to make improvements. The unit is due to reopen later this month.

In the report, Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals and CQC lead for mental health, said there were many areas where Nelft needed to improve.

“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,” he said.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said the report was “very worrying”.

“I have been concerned for some time at the inadequate provision of mental health services and particularly provision for children and young people in Redbridge,” he told the Recorder.

“I took up this issue again with Nelft recently and received an inadequate response.

“Now the CQC has confirmed my worst fears.

“It requires urgent action by the trust and if necessary intervention and support from the Department of Health and government ministers.”

Mr Brouder believed there were also a number of positives from the report and said Nelft was already working on improvements.

He said: “As an organisation that strives to deliver the best possible care to our patients and our belief in continuous improvement, we take on board the feedback from the CQC.

“We have already made significant improvements across the majority of areas highlighted in the report in the five months since the inspection and where we have not yet made the necessary improvements we have action plans in place.”

To read about one family’s anger at Nelft after their son committed suicide while a patient at Goodmayes Hospital, see Thursday’s Recorder.