Inspectors downgrade rating for Southgate mental health facility over safety concerns

Priory Hospital North London cares for young people with mental health problems but its now rated ‘requires improvement’ by CQC

Priory North London
Priory Hospital North London (credit Google)

A hospital that cares for young people with mental health problems has had its rating downgraded over safety concerns.

The Priory Hospital North London in The Bourne, Southgate, has been told to make improvements to its child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) by the care watchdog, Care Quality Commision (CQC).

Inspectors from the regulator carried out an unannounced inspection of the CAMHS service in March this year. In a report published last month, the watchdog downgraded the hospital’s rating from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ after highlighting a range of concerns.

The hospital says it has “acted swiftly” to implement the actions required by the watchdog.

The CQC’s report states that staff did not always monitor young people’s physical health in line with the provider’s standard operating procedure or national guidance after they had received medicines via rapid tranquilisation, meaning they “may be at potential risk of harm”.

It adds that the medicines trolley in the clinic room was not clean, young people reported ongoing issues with the effectiveness of the ward’s washing machine, and the ward environment was not suitable for those with autism spectrum disorder.

CQC raised concerns over medicines management, including failures to sign the controlled drugs book in line with policy, while issues with labelling and storage meant staff “could not be sure medicines administered to young people were suitable for use”.

Its report states that some parents felt staff did not encourage their children to engage with the education or therapy on the ward, or to eat a balanced diet.

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In addition, young people and carers were “not yet formally involved in the operation of the hospital”, with plans to involve service users on interview panels or in clinical governance meetings yet to be implemented.

Governance processes were also found to need strengthening, including oversight of medicines management issues.

CQC rated the hospital as good under its ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’ categories, noting that staff “treated young people with compassion and kindness and understood their individual needs”.

However, when aggregated with the previous ratings for the acute adult wards, the hospital’s overall rating was downgraded to ‘requires improvement’.

A hospital spokesperson said: “Having had a successful independent NHS quality inspection in the month prior to this inspection, we are disappointed in this rating, which is based on a narrow inspection of one area of our service.

“We have acted swiftly to implement required actions, such as fixing some damaged items in a small area on the ward, which had unfortunately been damaged the day before the inspection. Repairs were completed soon after as part of our regular maintenance programme. At the time of the inspection, we had also recently implemented a new patient health monitoring system which meant inspectors found duplication across systems, but our new processes are now fully implemented.

“We endeavour to care for autistic people in community settings, but where they require hospital treatment and adaptations to their environment this is done on a case-by-case basis to ensure rooms are personalised to suit their needs. Our wards meet NHS England specifications for autistic young people.

“Inspectors noted that staff know patients well and treat them with compassion and kindness, while managing risk well, and we are pleased that the hospital remains rated ‘good’ for being caring, effective and responsive.”

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