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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Improvements ordered after Priory Hospital care safety ruled inadequate

Written by Ella Pickover

One of the country's best-known private mental health clinics has been ordered to make improvements after inspectors ruled the safety of its care was "inadequate".

The Priory Hospital, in Roehampton, south-west London, is set in a Grade II-listed building and is known as Priory Healthcare group's "first and most well-known hospital".

It treats a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and addictions.

Some of the facilities on offer to private patients include an on-site restaurant, a gym with a personal trainer and housekeeping for a number of the private en-suite rooms.

But the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave the hospital a rating of "requires improvement" overall following an inspection.

The regulator issued the provider with a warning notice after inspectors rated the hospital as "inadequate" for providing safe care.

But Priory Healthcare, which runs the hospital, said it was "disappointed" that the regulator decided to re-inspect its facility part-way through a £1.2 million improvement programme.

The CQC argued that the hospital was not providing safe levels of staffing to meet the needs of their patients.

The inspection report reads: "There remained high vacancy rates for nurses across the hospital and particularly on the eating disorder service.

"This resulted in high use of bank and agency staff and there were also a significant number of shifts with below safe staffing levels.

"Records indicated that there were more incidents on shifts with insufficient staff on Priory Court, the eating disorders unit for children and adolescents. There had been 95 incidents on Priory Court in the six months prior to the inspection.

"Following the inspection the provider sent us revised figures indicating a higher level of staffing than indicated at the time of the inspection.

"We undertook enforcement action against the provider, serving a warning notice regarding staffing levels."

The regulator launched a re-inspection of the premises in October last year after it highlighted concerns during a visit in March 2016.

It said that in addition to concerns about staffing levels, inspectors concluded that the hospital environment, particularly on the acute wards, remained unsafe for patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Inspectors rated the trust as "good" for being effective and caring but "requires improvement" for being responsive.

Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC's deputy chief inspector for mental health, said: "When we inspected the Priory Hospital in October 2016, we were very concerned about the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.

"The hospital must ensure it can meet the needs of patients they choose to admit whilst improvements to staffing and the environment take place.

"We did however find some improvements and noted that the provider had implemented a pre-admission risk assessment. This included a handover system for ensuring staff noted risks.

"The wards also provided a comprehensive range of psychological therapies, including dialectical behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and family therapy. Occupational therapists and dietitians facilitated activities and discussion groups."

Commenting on the inspection, Dr Sylvia Tang, chief executive of Priory Healthcare, said: "Roehampton is a safe hospital providing high quality care and treatment and we remain fully committed to making improvements for the benefit of all of our patients.

"Our £1.2 million improvement programme at Roehampton is being led by a new management team and includes trialling a state-of-the-art patient monitoring system.

"It is disappointing that we have been re-inspected part-way through this programme when there were works in progress which have now been completed.

"Similarly, we question CQC's findings in relation to staffing: our rotas show that appropriate staff-patient ratios have been maintained and, over the last year, we have reduced the vacancy rate for nurses by more than 50%, despite a national shortage of nurses."

The hospital has 99 inpatient beds.

CQC inspectors examined acute wards for adults of working age and psychiatric intensive care units and specialist eating disorders services.

The regulator has asked the hospital to ensure that staff turnover is reduced and more permanent staff are employed to provide consistency of care.

It has also been told to progress work to improve the safety of the physical environment.

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