Rotherham eating disorder service where young patients did not feel safe put in special measures

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“Young people told us they didn’t always feel safe, which they raised with staff repeatedly”

A Rotherham mental health service where young patients said they did not feel safe has been placed in special measures.

Ellern Mede Moorgate, a private specialist eating disorder facility on Moorgate Road, has been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

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Despite providing care for a relatively small number of patients at a time (12), physical restraints were used over 5,000 times in one year.

On average, this works out as restraining each patient more than once per day.

Ellern Mede Moorgate, RotherhamEllern Mede Moorgate, Rotherham
Ellern Mede Moorgate, Rotherham | Google

Alan Stephenson, CQC deputy director of operations in the north, said: “Young people also told us physical restrictions were used too often and that they’d been injured or experienced pain during these. 

“We were also concerned that some restrictions, for example, access to bedrooms during daytime hours, were used to manage behaviour, rather than help people.”

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Some staff had not received any restraint training but were still expected to participate in restraints due to the frequency of incidents occurring on the wards. 

Inspectors also identified concerns about high use of benzodiazepine medication, which can both be sedating and cause addiction.

Inspectors reported they did not see efforts to stop the overmedication of people with a learning disability, autism or both (STOMP), despite several autistic or suspected-autistic patients taking high doses of multiple benzodiazepines.

Ellern Mede Moorgate has two six-bed wards, one for children aged 8-18, and the other for young patients aged 18-25.Ellern Mede Moorgate has two six-bed wards, one for children aged 8-18, and the other for young patients aged 18-25.
Ellern Mede Moorgate has two six-bed wards, one for children aged 8-18, and the other for young patients aged 18-25. | John Devlin

Several patients were prescribed increasing doses over time, suggesting increasing tolerance to the medication, the report reads.

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Inspectors also observed young people receiving forced feeds through a nasogastric tube, even though their BMI was outside of threshold where this would be recommended as an intervention.

Mr Stephenson added: “Young people told us they didn’t always feel safe, which they raised with staff repeatedly. We found that this was partly because staff didn’t always record risks to people or take timely action to reduce those risks.

“The young people we spoke with said they didn’t feel like staff had time for them and they struggled to build relationships with them due to the high number of agency staff working at the service.”

On one ward, 67 per cent of shifts in the six months prior to inspection were worked by agency staff rather than permanent.

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The report notes the safety and cleanliness of the ward environments, as well as ongoing improvement projects including the creation of a patient inclusion lead and autism champion post.

Kate Majid, managing director of Ellern Mede, said: “Ellern Mede Moorgate is a highly specialist Eating Disorder Service with a successful track record of caring for some of the most vulnerable and complex patients in the area.

“Whilst the nature of the care we provide is often challenging, we are very proud of the work that our devoted staff teams carry out each day to make this possible. 

“We welcome feedback from our partners, our patients and our families and have acted on this swiftly so that we can continue to grow and improve.

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“We have taken the feedback from CQC very seriously and are already working at pace to carry out the quality improvements required.”

The hospital, provided by Oak Tree Forest Limited, will be kept under close review, and face further action if “rapid and widespread” improvements do not take place within six months.

Overall, and for being safe, caring and well-led, the service was rated ‘inadequate’.

For being effective and responsive to people’s needs, it was rated ‘requires improvement’.

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