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Mental health hospital 'not meeting standards'

Mental health hospital 'not meeting standards'

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the Ashley House mental health care hospital has shown it is not meeting accepted standards in a number of regards.

Inspectors visited the facility three times in June this year and once at the end of July and have now published a report that shows serious improvements are needed if it is to meet the quality requirements needed to properly care for patients.

While the CQC investigation showed patients were treated with respect, they were not "fully supported" in their care and treatment and this was judged to have had an impact on people using the service.

In one example, a patient told inspectors he was fully involved in decisions about his care plan, but was not given access to documents relating to ways he could progress in the future and this goes against recommended best practice.

Concerns were also raised by patients that there is not enough to do and some residents complained life at the institution "could be boring". One person using Ashley House's facilities said: "We don't have anything to look forward to. There are not many activities."

This is a serious problem and mental health patients should be stimulated mentally so they can move towards a recovery and, eventually, a discharge.

Perhaps the most serious flaw found by CQC inspectors related to failures in performing background checks and some nurses and support workers had not been fully vetted before coming into contact with patients.

It was also discovered that there "was not always the right number of staff with the right skills available to meet people's needs and keep them safe."

Understaffing is a widespread concern around UK medical institutions and while it is hard to source trained nurses and support workers, the safety of residents should always be the top priority at mental health units like Ashley House.

Bosses at the unit will hope changes they make in the coming months before the CQC's next unannounced inspection will see it pass a number of benchmarks.

By Francesca Witney