Kent and Medway mental health trust improves but 'still needs work'

media captionKent & Medway Partnership Trust CQC report

A mental health trust has been rated as outstanding for being caring but needs more work on safety, a report has said.

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership was rated as needing improvement in 2015, but the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has raised its rating to good.

However, it still had to address some areas, including safety, as a priority.

Trust boss Helen Greatorex said the CQC's feedback was being taken "very seriously".

Two years ago, a Dartford ward was singled out for unsafe administration of medicine and patients being made to wear incontinence pads when not needed.

image captionThe trust was told to improve high caseload numbers allocated to individual staff

Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said there had been significant improvement in ensuring patients were protected against risks associated with unsafe management of medicines, and staff were "compassionate, kind and respectful of patients and their families".

But he said: "We also found some areas where the trust needed to make further improvements, including safety."

Good practice identified by inspectors included dementia care, rehabilitation work and support for carers.

'We have solutions'

The trust was told to improve high caseload numbers allocated to individual staff, review waiting lists and ensure it followed guidance on same-sex accommodation.

Inspectors also said that in the forensic inpatient and secure services, the trust had to protect patients and staff against the risks of unsuitable premises and equipment, including a review of bed frames to reduce the risk of ligatures.

Ms Greatorex said the trust was already working on improvements.

She said: "The CQC was uncompromising in their feedback in the areas we need to tackle but we take that very seriously.

"They are really serious problems, but we've got solutions."

Explaining the pressures on the trust, she said referrals were going up and a stigma about mental health issues was reducing.

She also said A&E units were under enormous pressures nationally and the trust was playing its part to fix the problem.

Analysis by Mark Norman, BBC South East health correspondent

Kent and Medway has a total of 83 buildings on 47 sites, including 16 hospitals with 518 beds.

The CQC has highlighted a series of issues that will need to be resolved - high caseloads, men and women sharing wards, unsuitable premises and equipment, and even the risk of patients using bed frames which could lead to injuries.

The trust says it recognises the problems and is addressing them "systematically".

The chief executive has acknowledged the issues and added the pressure of recruiting staff, coping with busy A&E departments and tight financial constraints made it tough, but she was very clear she wanted to see the trust rated "outstanding" in 18 months time.

Only two other mental health trusts in England are rated as highly. Can it be done here?

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