Liverpool Community Health Trust given warnings
NHS chiefs at a Liverpool care provider have been told to make urgent improvements after "extremely concerning" shortfalls were discovered.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust was failing to meet national care and welfare targets.
Inspectors said "high staff sickness rates" and a "poor staff skill mix" had affected the quality of care.
The trust said the report was "disappointing".
Unannounced visits to the trust's headquarters and Ward 35 Intermediate Care Unit at Aintree University Hospital took place last year.
Some workers told inspectors staff morale was low and they felt unsupported by the trust's managers.
Inspectors said "serious concerns" were raised by staff that they would be treated unfairly should they report incidents or concerns to management.
Within the district nursing services, a high reliance on agency staff was found. A lack of detailed handover information about patient care was also reported.
'Disappointing and difficult'
On Ward 35, inspectors observed staff "did not always follow safe practice when administering medication" and not all medicines were stored securely.
The CQC has issued two formal warnings to the trust, with an unannounced follow-up visit planned.
Malcolm Bower-Brown, the CQC's Regional Director, said: "The shortfalls we found against legally required national standards were extremely concerning.
"We have warned [the trust] that urgent improvements must be made."
Frances Molloy, who chairs the trust, said: "The trust is committed to resolving the highlighted issues, many of which were identified by ourselves and by our own staff in the second half of last year.
"We proactively reported these issues to the CQC and have been in regular contact with them regarding the improvements and actions we have been taking since."
She added: "We take the concerns very seriously but can report that significant progress has already been made to address them".
The trust provides health services to people in more than 100 locations, including several health centres and clinics, five walk-in centres and ten GP practices.