Black Country hospitals told to improve after inspection has concerns that 'trust not always ensuring patients were safe'

An 'unpleasant odour', damaged furniture and a series of blind spots.

Black Country hospitals told to improve after inspection has concerns that 'trust not always ensuring patients were safe'

These are just some of the problems found at a hospital when the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was inspected by the CQC.

The trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services across the Black Country, has been told it needs to improve after concerns were raised over its safety.

Inspectors highlighted issues with the storage of medicine, staffing levels and blind spots among a host of others.

The trust, which provides services to Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Walsall, was told the safety of its mental health services, the effectiveness of these services and the leadership of the services all required improvement.

Despite being rated as good by CQC inspectors for its level of caring and responsiveness, it still received an overall rating of requires improvement.

In its report, the CQC found that Abbey ward, Charlemont ward and Friar ward at Hallam Street Hospital in West Bromwich all had blind spots. This is on top of the wards being in a 'poor state' with stained and damaged walls, carpets and furniture and an 'unpleasant odour throughout the ward areas'.

Inspectors also found 'significant risks in relation to staffing levels' at Health Visiting Family Inclusion Team that the trust runs and medication 'not properly stored' at Complex Care North in Wolverhampton.

Dr Paul Lelliott, CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said: "Our inspectors found the trust must make a number of improvements to bring its services up to a level that would earn a rating of Good overall.

"In particular, we were concerned that the trust was not always ensuring that patients were safe by providing and maintaining emergency equipment or managing and storing medication properly. The trust also needed to introduce a robust system for managing patient records.

"Despite these concerns, we found a number of areas of good practice across Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This included how young people were involved in making decisions about their care and that the trust had also employed a nurse who spoke four Asian languages to lead on work with black and minority ethnic communities."

Although the overall rating is requires improvement, 31 out of 50 services were rated as 'good', including three ratings of 'outstanding'. Particular praise was given to the trust's level of caring with 'staff treating patients with kindness, compassion and communicating effectively'.

Karen Dowman, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: "Although we are disappointed with our overall rating, we were pleased that the CQC rated the majority of our services as 'good' and three as 'outstanding'. We missed an overall rating of 'good' by only a few points.

"To be rated as 'good' for being 'Caring' and 'Responsive' is a great achievement and demonstrates how committed our staff are to the needs of our patients and service users.

"Since the inspection, we have completed the work in those areas that were rated as requiring improvement by the CQC inspectors, with the exception of issues that require structural alterations which we are considering at the moment. We have invited the CQC to inspect us again soon to check on the progress we have made.

"I am extremely proud of the feedback I received from CQC inspectors on how caring they found our staff to be without exception."

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