Mental health services criticised

CONCERNS about dirty and unsafe units used for Suffolk's mental health services have been criticised following a routine inspection.The Commission for Health Improvement also criticised communication in the Local Health Partnership Trust and highlighted that staff were also concerned about lack of training in some areas, particularly around dealing with ethnic minorities.

CONCERNS about dirty and unsafe units used for Suffolk's mental health services have been criticised following a routine inspection.

The Commission for Health Improvement also criticised communication in the Local Health Partnership Trust and highlighted that staff were also concerned about lack of training in some areas, particularly around dealing with ethnic minorities.

However, despite some concerns, the Trust, which is responsible for mental health services in the county were praised for many of the aspects of their work, making them a two star trust and putting them among the top third of Trusts in the country.

The commission was particularly impressed with the Chilton Houses based on the St Clements site in Ipswich, which provide 24 hour care for adults with long term mental health needs.

In this area, service users are involved in how services are delivered in the two houses and in their own individual care.

A partnership project called Suffolk community arrest referral service was also highlighted for good practice. It is a joint partnership project between the trust's substance misuse team, the police and other health and social care partners.

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It was also pointed out that there had been a change in culture and style for the better of the trust in the last 18 months.

And although they are pleased with some areas of the report Trust bosses admit they are disappointed with some, even though lots of changes have already been made since the report was carried out.

During the review the commission found that the Hillcrest unit in Bury St Edmunds had dirty and unsafe accommodation.

Staff seemed to be unaware of how to minimise risks and there were clear ligature points in service user areas.

A programme to fit locks to all the doors is also behind schedule leaving some women feeling vulnerable in their rooms.

However other units, such as Wedgwood House in Bury St Edmunds were found to have a high standard of accommodation.

It was also found that during the last three years staff have consistently complained of a lack of communication.

The CHI also found that more work needed to be done with GP's and primary care colleagues around the referral criteria which had left them feeling vulnerable caring for service users in the community who may not have had a mental health assessment.

Martin Royal is director of strategy and partnerships for the trust.

He said: "The key thing for us is that had we had this report done about a year ago it would have been markedly different in terms of the outcome.

"We have transformed a trust with no developing initiatives or direction.

"Within a year the whole thing has been turned around."

Mr Royal said that he agreed changes needed to be made in places and that services were now being put in place where problems were identified.

n. What do you think about the issues surrounding our mental health services?

Write and tell us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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