South West London and St George's Mental Health Trust must improve
The Healthcare Commission has called on South West London and St George’s
Mental Health Trust to improve cleanliness and provide more activities for patients.
The Commission today (Friday) published the findings of its independent assessment
of three wards within the trust. It made seven recommendations to improve the
care of patients.
The Commission began the assessment in July 2008, after it was alerted to concerns
about cleanliness and a lack of engagement between staff and patients.
In August 2008, accompanied by staff from the Mental Health Act Commission,
it conducted inspections of the John Meyer Ward at Springfield University Hospital
and the Laurel and Lavender Wards at Queen Mary’s Hospital.
The report acknowledges progress made since a similar assessment by the Commission
in 2005. After this assessment, the trust improved availability of single-sex
accommodation, systems for identifying and minimising risks and also training
However, the Commission says further work needs to be done particularly in
relation to the ward environment, which in some areas is dirty with unpleasant
It also said more therapeutic activities are needed for patients and that staff
need to spend more time engaging with patients.
It calls on the trust to assess the risk of an observation point for nurses
on one ward, which is potentially unsafe for nurses working on their own at
Access to fresh air on one ward is extremely poor. The Commission said the
trust must ensure that protocols are being followed so patients can get more
On some wards the Commission found aggressive and violent films available,
without any apparent risk-led assessment to determine which patients should,
or should not, have access to such material.
It also recommends that the trust improves training of staff for the computer
system holding clinical records, and that care plans are written in an appropriate
language and in a format that is easily accessible to the individual patient.
The trust has worked with the Commission throughout the assessment and accepted
the findings. It will now produce an action plan, which will be monitored by
the strategic health authority, NHS London.
The Commission will review progress in implementing the recommendations after
Nigel Ellis, Healthcare Commission Head of Investigations said:
“It is vital to a patient’s recovery that the environment
is clean and well maintained and that there is access to therapeutic activities.
The trust must improve these aspects, on behalf of its patients.
We recognise the trust faces challenges regarding the poor fabric of
some of its buildings. However this must not be allowed to affect the quality
of care given to patients, or compromise the safety of staff or patients.
The trust has cooperated fully with our assessment and agreed to make
the necessary changes. We will be checking after six months to make sure that
improvements have been made.”