Healthcare Commission launches safety probe at mental health trust

The Healthcare Commission has today launched an investigation into patient safety at West London Mental Health NHS Trust.

The move follows concerns from patients’ watchdog the Mental Health Act Commission and other sources about how the trust handles serious incidents, including self-harm. The Healthcare Commission’s investigations team made unannounced visits at West Middlesex and St Bernar’s hospitals on February 13 and decided there was cause to investigate.

Safety concerns

The investigation will focus on the trust’s responses to concerns about safety from April 2005 to the present and whether appropriate action has been taken to address their causes. This will include scrutiny over the number and types of incidents and the governance arrangements within the trust. The commission will also interview individuals inside and outside the trust who have information relevant to the incidents.

A trust spokesperson said: “Clearly, the Healthcare Commission’s decision to launch an investigation into services provided by West London Mental Health Trust is not taken lightly and we take it very seriously. We aim to deliver first class care and we are constantly striving to improve all aspects of our services. As a large mental health trust providing the full range of mental health services*, we recognise that serious incidents do occur on occasion. Obviously our aim is to minimise these and to ensure we respond appropriately when things do go wrong.”

Highly rated trust

The trust was rated as “good” for use of resources and “excellent” for quality of services in the commission’s annual health check for 2006-7.

The commission is expected to publish its findings within the next 12 months.

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