An NHS learning disabilities service that stopped admitting new patients after a damning inspection has passed the first of several re-inspections.
However, commissioners have refused to rule out not using one of the service’s two assessment and treatment units again.
Slade House in Oxford failed all 10 the standards assessed at a Care Quality Commission inspection last September. It was issued with six enforcement notices for serious breaches and four more areas for further action.
The original inspection found significant problems at Slade House’s short-term treatment and assessment team (Statt) unit, including “little therapeutic intervention”, a building that was not clean or safe enough and poor record keeping. A patient also told inspectors that she felt “unsafe” at the unit, run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The inspection report also said that a patient with epilepsy had died in the bath earlier in the year at Statt and, as a result, patients with the condition were now routinely observed discreetly while in the bath. An internal inquiry into the death of the patient, Connor Sparrowhawk, has just reported but the details are being kept confidential.
Though services were better at the eight-bed John Sharich Unit on the site, both stopped admitting new patients following the inspection and the trust launched an internal investigation.
The re-inspection, which took place in December, only examined the units’ performance on the three “environmental standards” that it received warning notices on: cleanliness and infection control, the safety of premises and safety of equipment. It was found to be meeting all three standards on re-inspection.
The re-inspection did not cover the other three areas where warning notices were issued – the quality of care, record keeping and the monitoring of the quality of the service.
There are currently no patients in the Statt unit and five in John Sharich House.
A CQC spokesperson said inspectors would return unannounced to inspect the remaining areas where the service was failing.
“We’ve told the trust that if they decide to re-admit patients before we’ve been back again they need to tell us and provide evidence of how they are assured they are compliant with the standards,” she added.
A trust spokesperson said neither unit would admit new patients until it was re-inspected by the CQC against the remaining three areas. Of the Statt unit, he said: “We are working closely with commissioners and the CQC to ensure the unit is re-opened at an appropriate time and for a purpose which best meets the needs of the local population. Together, we must make sure the unit meets the same high standards as our other services and further work is needed before timescales for re-opening can be determined.”
He said the trust was “on schedule” with its action plan to address the additional problems where the CQC had said action was required but had stopped short of issuing an enforcement notice.
A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council, which previously commissioned beds at the Statt and has people placed at John Sharich House, said it was continuing to scrutinise the service to ensure care was “of the required standard”.
He said the council “will want to make use of the facility [John Sharich House] again” but that “no decision has been taken about [the Statt’s] future use”. He said: “There are regular review meetings between the council, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Southern Health regarding Slade House and at this stage there is not a solid timeframe for possibly using the Statt there again.”