Published: 00:01, 12 April 2017
Kent’s mental health trust has raised standards and is now providing a good service for the county, the government’s health watchdog has said.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) was previously told improve after a catalogue of failings were uncovered by inspectors for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2015.
But in its latest inspection, the CQC bumped the trust's rating to good and praised it for providing outstanding care for patients.
Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I am pleased to report that our latest inspection has found evidence of real improvement for the people who rely on these services.
“It is clear that the trust had taken feedback from our previous inspection and responded positively to the concerns we raised.
"Throughout the inspection, we met with dedicated staff who were committed to their roles.
"Staff were compassionate, kind and respectful of patients and their families.
"In all 10 core services, we rated caring as Outstanding or Good.
“But we also found some areas where the trust needed to make further improvements, including safety.
“We will continue to monitor the trust and our inspectors will return at a later date to check on its progress.”
KMPT has 518 beds over 47 sites that provide mental health, learning disability, substance misuse and forensic services to 1.7 million Kent residents.
It was told to improve by the CQC after an inspection in 2015. Concerns were raised in multiple areas of the trust’s problems with leadership, the handling of medicine, the use of Deprivation of Liberty Orders (DoLs) and the high number of vacancies.
Concerns were also raised about a failure to respond to a raft of issues at Littlestone Lodge in Dartford.
“It is clear that the trust had taken feedback from our previous inspection and responded positively to the concerns we raised" - Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals
Several coroners have also told the trust to improve how it looks after patients after several high-profile suicides, including Natalie Gray, a troubled mother who jumped in front of a train in April 2015 after discharging herself from Priority House.
In its latest report, the CQC has praised the new Peer Supported Open Dialogue Team (POD) which involves families more closely in patients care, as well as treatment for people with dementia.
However, inspectors criticised the high caseload numbers allocated to carers and long waiting lists for initial assessments.
Adult acute services, including Littlestone Hospital, Saint Martin's Hospital in Canterbury and Priority House in Maidstone, were rated as requiring improvement.
To read the full report, click here.