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CQC publishes inspection report on services at Forest House Adolescent Unit

30 Mar 22

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today (Wednesday 30 March 2022) published a report on services provided at Forest House Adolescent Unit in Radlett which is run by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT, the Trust).

Forest House is a specialist inpatient ward for adolescents who are experiencing significant mental ill health, caring for young people with complex needs, including self-harm and eating disorders.

The CQC, which regulates health and social care services in England, carried out its inspection in November and December 2021.

The inspectors observed examples of good practice across the unit, in particular staff showing compassion and kindness to the young people in their care, and a person-centred approach to risk assessments and care plans.

However, inspectors also highlighted a number of concerns, including limited access to psychology and therapeutic support, staff vacancies, medication administration and dissatisfaction expressed by families and carers of young people who were being cared for on the unit.

As a result of the inspection, the CQC issued the Trust with a warning notice under Section 29a of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and has asked the Trust to make some improvements.

The CQC has also reduced its rating of the Trust’s child and adolescent ward from Outstanding to Inadequate. Ratings for other Trust services are not affected, and the Trust’s overall rating remains Outstanding.

The Trust has already taken action to respond to the concerns raised and there is an improvement plan in place.  Actions include:

  • Psychological therapies have been strengthened on the unit, with increased senior therapy presence. Family therapy, Dance therapy and Art therapy are now all being routinely provided on the unit.
  • A new psychologist and therapies lead have already been recruited to and both have started in post. Art therapy is being provided, and a permanent Art therapist is being recruited too.
  • Leadership on the unit has been further strengthened and recruitment is underway to recruit more nurses and health care assistants onto the unit; with staffing levels under daily review and safe staffing levels being met
  • Increased support and training has been provided to all staff in the unit; with the unit now meeting its training standards.
  • Action has been taken to ensure there is robust record keeping, care planning and risk management, and that this is regularly audited.

Karen Taylor, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are disappointed that we have not always provided the levels of care and support that young people and their families and carers should expect. We have already taken action and are determined to improve the service and care we provide.”

“Demand for our service at Forest House has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with other mental health services across the country, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of young people needing our services, particularly those requiring a high level of support.

She added: “The CQC has recognised that we have already started to address the issues they raised and we have an Improvement Plan in place. We are working closely with service users, their families, carers and the CQC, who will re-inspect Forest House in due course. We are confident that the changes we are already implementing will make a difference and will address the concerns raised.”


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