THE Care Quality Commission has published the results of a recent inspection into a Tyne Valley hospital prompted by concerns raised by a whistle blower about staffing issues, patient safety and the quality of care and treatment offered to patients.

The watchdog reported on mental health services for children and young people run by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust following an inecption at Ferndene in Prudhoe last November.

The CQC also inspected the Alnwood unit at St Nicholas Hospital in Newcastle.

Inspectors found that the wards were sufficiently staffed by professionals who managed risks to patient safety effectively.

However, instances of restrictive practices – including the use of belts and cuffs to restrain patients who were exhibiting behaviour which endangered themselves and others – had increased significantly since CQC’s previous inspection of the service, which took place in 2018.

Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said:“Our inspection found that the trust’s child and adolescent mental health wards had enough doctors and nurses to provide safe and effective care.

“However, it was concerning to find that there has been a significant increase in the use of restraint of children, which is unacceptable.

"It is the responsibility of the leadership in the organisation to ensure that there is a significant improvement in this situation and they need to provide ongoing evidence that the use of restraint is improving."

The trust admitted that levels of restraint in the services are too high.

John Lawlor, Chief Executive of Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are committed to reducing levels of restraint.

“As highlighted in the report, our staff routinely assess and manage risks to patients and attempt to use de-escalation to manage incidents, however we accept that the levels of restraint in our services are higher than we would like.

“Work is underway to ensure that the required improvements to debrief processes are implemented, and we have already seen an improvement.

“We are however pleased to note that the CQC recognises that in many respects these services are delivered to a safe and high standard by well-staffed teams.

"Most importantly, the inspection found that young people in our services felt safe in our care and were supported by staff. We will continue to build on the ongoing work to reduce restrictive interventions."