Hospital has to improve

Entrance to St Georges Hospital, Morpeth
Entrance to St Georges Hospital, Morpeth

A Northumberland-based mental health hospital has been ordered to improve after an unannounced inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out the inspection at St George’s Park, in Morpeth, after concerns were raised that standards were not being met.

Now a report from the inspection team shows that action is needed in four out of seven areas of care.

Failings included unsafe or unsuitable premises and not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff.

Inappropriate medicine management was another cause for concern.

Inspectors found that some medication kept for emergency use had reached its expiry date, but was still available on clinical units and staff did not know who had responsibility for checking the dates.

However, a medicine management policy had been extensively updated during 2012 and controlled drugs were stored securely and checked daily.

Other failings included problems maintaining accurate records.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for the hospital, said it responded immediately to address the issues raised and additional nursing staff will be recruited.

The hospital provides a full range of mental health facilities, including care for learning disabilities and problems with substance misuse, as well as rehabilitation services.

The unannounced inspection took place in November, assessing the Embleton ward, which provides acute male admission and assessment services, and Bluebell Court, which is designed to prepare patients for moving on to independent living.

The report wasn’t all bad. Encouraging feedback included a clean and well-decorated Embleton ward and positive patient comments about respect for their privacy and dignity and involvement in their care, particularly in Bluebell Court. Standards were also met in respecting and involving patients in their care.