Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Told To Improve

Inspectors Concerned By Low Staffing Levels At Ramsey Unit in Barrow in Furness


Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) were "shocked" by what they saw during a recent visit to a site run by the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The regulator conducted an unannounced visit to the Ramsey Unit in Barrow in Furness on 10 October 2013 and a number of safety failings were uncovered.

Although the facility - which provides care for dementia sufferers - came up short when assessed against three national standards, inspectors said they were particularly concerned about low staffing levels.

The lack of employees meant patients at the unit were at greater risk of being injured in trips and falls, while some people were not given their medication at the correct times.

Certain patients were also in danger of losing weight, as food and drink intake charts had not been properly completed.

The CQC confirmed the unit had already taken action to address the staffing problems and had prevented new intakes until the situation had been resolved.

Two formal warnings have been issued to the trust and further inspections will be carried out in the future to ensure the necessary improvements have been made.

Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC's regional director for the north, confirmed the unit started to accept new patients again on November 18th and the regulator will be monitoring the site closely in the coming months.

"We were shocked by what we found at the Ramsey Unit and have warned the trust that improvements must be made," he commented.

Claire Molloy, chief executive at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the organisation was "shocked and concerned" about the results of the CQC's inspection report.

"As new chief executive, to hear that our patients are not being properly supported is very upsetting and something I never want to hear again," she remarked.

Ms Molloy revealed that staffing levels have been increased by 25 per cent and senior medical and nursing support has now been drafted in.

She added that while the staff on the ward are professional and caring, the systems that the trust had put in place were not working.

Expert Opinion
The findings from the CQC are very worrying as patient safety should be the number one priority for any healthcare provider. It is vital that the NHS trust affected works as quickly as possible to provide reassurances that lessons will be learned and standards improved.

“It is essential work continues to identify the regions within the NHS where there are failings in patient care and that action is taken to ensure that staff are trained to meet industry guidelines and also that staffing numbers meet the level of demand.

“Dementia is a serious and debilitating condition for the patient and they deserve the best possible care. Such standards of treatment can only be provided if conditions like this are diagnosed quickly and correctly at the earliest possible stage, but these figures suggest some work needs to be done to make improvements in this regard.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner