Statement on Care Quality Commission report into Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
The picture of mental health services under increased pressure in the latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) is reflected in the feedback Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull receive. Like many local services, BSMHFT is struggling with a combination of high demand and insufficient staffing and resources, impeding staff from consistently delivering high quality care to vulnerable people.
However, even in such challenging circumstances the safety of service users cannot be compromised, and we are particularly concerned to learn that the CQC has issued a warning notice requiring urgent improvements to staffing levels in certain acute wards. Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull have already met with BSMHFT and raised our concerns about service users receiving the support they need and the importance of tangible action in response to the CQC. We will be continuing to work with the Trust and seeking evidence that the necessary actions are now being undertaken without delay.
It is also worrying that not all service users that needed them had risk assessments in place, and that mandatory life support and safeguarding training was not always being complied with in some services. It is essential that the Trust reassures service users and their loved ones that these issues are being addressed and that people are safe in its care.
Kindness and compassion are of upmost importance when caring for people with mental health difficulties, and we are pleased to see that BSMHFT continues to be rated ‘Good’ for caring and responsive: a credit to the hard work and dedication of staff. We are also encouraged that the Trust board is actively listening to service users and carers, both with regards to individual care and at board level. As the voice of local service users, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull know how vital it is to place service users at the heart of decision making in health and social care, and are keen to use our expertise to support BSMHFT to engage with local people to ensure that any improvements made are those that service users and their loved ones require.
Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull are aware that many mental health services are under pressure, both in the local area and across the country. We have recently investigated mental health services for children and young people in Birmingham and support for young people who self-harm in Solihull. As a result of the feedback we receive, mental health services are becoming an increasingly important focus of our work, and we will continue to work with both service users and the new Mental Health Collaborative to improve access to timely and effective mental health care for everyone who needs it.
– Richard Burden, Chair, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull
* Image by Michael Westley, CC BY-SA 2.0, Forward House © Michael Westley :: Geograph Britain and Ireland