Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust given formal warning

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has given a formal warning to the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust over staffing levels at a Bristol hospital.

Inspectors issued the warning following an unannounced inspection of three wards at the Fromeside Unit of Blackberry Hill Hospital, in December.

The medium-secure unit provides specialist care and treatment for adults with mental health disorders.

The trust previously said it was introducing new staffing arrangements.

These were intended to respond to staff absence or peaks in demand.

Shortages 'commonplace'

But inspectors from the health watchdog found that the unit was "still failing to comply with national regulations on staffing".

They also noted:

  • There were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people's needs
  • Even though many patients at Fromeside were only permitted to leave the ward with staff escorts, staff shortages restricted people's ability to leave the ward
  • Patients and staff said that leave was regularly cancelled or disrupted, leading to further problems affecting staff and patient morale

Ian Biggs, deputy director of CQC in the South, said staff had told the commission that shortages had become "so commonplace" that they had become tired of reporting their concerns as they perceived that nothing was done about it.

"The trust has assured us that they will be taking action to address our concerns and meet the standards.

"We will return in the near future and if we find that they are not making the required progress we will consider further how to use our legal powers to protect the patients," he added.

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