St Andrew's Healthcare will overhaul service criticised by regulator

Responding to findings by the Care Quality Commission that some staff at the Fitzroy House facility did not always ensure safe environments, Katie Fisher says some disciplinary action is being taken

The chief executive of St Andrew’s Healthcare has described the model of care provided by the charity at a site in Northampton as “wrong” and has committed to overhauling the service in the wake of criticism from the Care Quality Commission.

Katie Fisher, who has been at St Andrew’s for 18 months, said the charity was implementing a new strategy and was taking disciplinary action against a small number of staff in relation to the treatment of patients at the Northampton facility.

The comments come after a report published last year by the Care Quality Commission highlighted concerns that some staff members were “not always treating patients with dignity and respect” that managers were not always “ensuring safe environments”.

The charity last year failed a CQC inspection of its adolescent services in Northampton, which had been prompted by concerns about the safe care and treatment of patients.

The inspections led to enforcement action being taken against the charity by the CQC, with warning notices issued to the charity about dignity and respect, safe care and treatment, safeguarding from abuse and improper treatment, and good governance.

St Andrew’s said it was going to close its service at Fitzroy House in Northampton and move patients to a smaller service nearby. 

Fitzroy House opened in January 2017 and was able to accomodate 110 patients.

Fisher said in a statement that disciplinary action was being taken against a small number of staff in relation to the poor treatment of patients.

The charity declined to provide numbers or the outcome of the disciplinary action, but said it was ongoing.

“There are no excuses for this behaviour, and for this we are sorry," Fisher said. "We know we need to make significant changes, and quickly.

“However, we are a charity of just over 5,000 staff, the absolute majority of whom are good people who dedicate their lives to helping the most vulnerable in our society.”

Fisher said that the use of agency staff in its child and adolescent mental health service would be reduced as part of the new strategy.

“We have listened to feedback from all of our stakeholders, including our patients, their carers and the CQC, and we must change in order to deliver the very highest quality of care,” she said. 

“The current model of care we are providing to some of the most vulnerable young people in our country is wrong. Our CAMHS [child and adolescent mental health services] facility is the largest in Europe, which means our permanent staff are overstretched, we have to rely on agency staff and, as a result, we are not always able to provide the high standards of care we expect.”

The charity has introduced a number of new policies to tackle issues raised by CQC, including appointing an external whistleblowing provider, providing regular opportunities to raise issues with the senior leadership team and setting up a zero-tolerance working group, chaired by the chief executive.

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