Sheffield's children's mental health wards rapped by watchdog over safety concerns in unannounced visit

Sheffield’s children’s mental health wards have been told to tighten their safety policies in an unannounced visit by the healthcare watchdog.

By Alastair Ulke
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 8:58 am

The CQC has warned Sheffield Children’s NHS foundation Trust about a string of issues it wants to see addressed for the safety of patients.

It includes concerns over staffing shortages, using facilities that were not fit for purpose and increased use of restraints.

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Three wards at the Becton Centre for Children and Young People was rapped in an unexpected visit by the CQC.

More pointedly, inspectors also raised concerns over the trust’s Sapphire Lodge ward, in Sevenairs Road, which it picked out for struggling with low morale, poor feedback from patients’ families and for being inappropriately used as a nasogastric feeding facility.

The visit reportedly came as a result of a recent serious incident where a child was able to abscond from a ward despite being on escorted leave.

Despite its criticisms, the visit does not formally impact the service’s overall rating with the watchdog, which remains as good.

The unannounced inspection of the trust’s children and young people’s mental health services (CAMHS) in July focused on three wards – Sapphire Lodge, Emerald Lodge and Ruby Lodge – at the Becton Centre at Beighton Community Hospital on Sevenairs Road.

The report reads: “There had been a recent serious incident where children and young people had managed to abscond while on escorted leave, which could have put them at serious risk of harm.

“We found a number of concerns around the safety of care being provided to vulnerable people.

“Since our inspection, the trust has started to make improvements.”

Inspectors found shifts were not always run with sufficiently experienced staff with backgrounds in children and young people.

Staff morale was noted as being low, especially on the hospital’s Sapphire Lodge ward, with staff saying they did not always feels “respected, supported or valued”.

Sapphire Lodge was also at the time being used as a nasogastric feeding facility, which inspectors scolded as “an inappropriate environment for this purpose [that] did not provide an appropriate level of dignity and privacy.”

Feedback from children and their families was also mixed – again, with Sapphire being singled out for providing “mainly negative feedback”. People on the Emerald Lodge, however, gave positive feedback.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust was rated as ‘good’ overall in July 2019. It was rated as ‘requires improvement’ for its safety policies.

Ruth Brown, Acting Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcomed the CQC’s visit and their feedback on our services at this particularly challenging time for children’s mental health.

“We were pleased they found that colleagues were well trained, lodges were clean and COVID-safe and that patient risks were well managed.

“We recognise that difficulties with recruitment have resulted in us not always being able to provide care to the standard we would want. We have already made significant progress on the issues raised, allowing us to give more support to the vulnerable children in our care. The CQC has recognised the progress we’ve made since July.

“We would also like to acknowledge the commitment and efforts of our team at Becton, who despite the pressures on mental health services nationally, have worked incredibly hard to provide the best possible care for children and young people they can, and to continue to improve the service we offer.”