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NHS Trust apologises for 'inadequate' mental health services in Hillingdon

The CQC found some patients were forced to sleep on sofas due to a shortage of beds

The NHS Foundation Trust responsible for mental health services in Hillingdon borough has apologised for 'inadequate' care.

The Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) came under fire in the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) inspection report.

Healthwatch Hillingdon, a health and social care watchdog run by local people, welcomed the report as it reflected their own concerns and worries.

A spokesman for Healthwatch Hillingdon said: “From what parents and young people have told us, the most damaging aspect of mental health services in the borough are the long waiting lists to get treatment.

“Not only does this result in a deterioration of the young person’s condition, when treatment is eventually given it has to be more intensive and therefore is more costly.”

Children and Adolescent Mental Health Care (CAMHs) was rated good overall across seven London Boroughs, however the CQC report draws attention to Hillingdon stating some improvements are required, especially for waiting lists for treatment as some patients had been waiting for more than a year.

Riverside Mental Health Centre, which is adjacent to Hillingdon Hospital was deemed as 'inadequate'.

The centre consists of two acute wards for adults: Crane ward for women and Frays ward for men, with a total of 41 beds.

The CQC found that Frays ward had 27 patients allocated to 18 beds and Crane ward had 23 patients allocated to 18 beds. This meant patients were forced to sleep on a sofa or in a quiet room on a temporary bed.

The support offered to patients through the urgent advice line was a "disappointment", with the CQC outlining: “They felt their expectations had been raised by this being referred to as a crisis line when it only offered support and signposting rather than full crisis support”.

Healthwatch Hillingdon produced a report detailing young people’s poor experience of mental health services at the end of last year.

A second report, soon to be published this week, which involved them speaking to more young people and sets out their views about what is needed to be done to provide a better service.

Claire Murdoch, chief executive of CNWL, vowed to bring about the improvements required.

She said: “The CQC tested us intensively and have reached their conclusions. We accept their judgements and are glad they strike the balance they do, with some 'outstanding' and a great many 'good'.

“None are a complete surprise to us, and are mainly in one service; though when spelled out as they are here they hit me as hard as any reader; improvements are already under way but I am sorry they’re needed.”

Waiting times was a repeat concern by patients under CAMHS. Healthwatch therefore carried out a long piece of work alongside Hillingdon Mind.

Ms Murdoch added: “We are aware of waiting time issues in Hillingdon CAMHS and this is being experienced nationally due to system pressures and is not unique to our services.

“Like much of the rest of the country and London, the trust has experienced very considerable pressure on our acute inpatient beds.

“We have taken a number of actions to date to address areas of concerns noted in relation to our Hillingdon acute adult inpatient services.”

The changes include opening two extra beds and implementing an escalation policy to clear any blocks to finding beds.

Healthwatch Hillingdon's next report ‘Seen & Heard: Why not now?’ will be out shortly.

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