Date Published: 16 January 2009

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 of staff.

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 odours.

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 night.

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 fresh air.

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 six months.

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.”


Source: The Healthcare Commission (England, UK).

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