Deemed 'uncaring, undignified and disrespectful' in a 2019 inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), St Andrew's Healthcare has plans to reduce the numbers of patients in its Child and Adolescence Mental Health Service (CAMHS) units by more than two thirds.
Following months of discussions with stakeholders and two inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Charity has decided to close the current service based in Fitzroy House and move patients to a smaller more suitable service located within its Northampton site.
“There is no excuses for this behaviour, and for this we are sorry. We know we need to make significant changes, and quickly".
Fitzroy House, which was opened in January 2017, can accommodate 110 patients, but the CEO Katie Fisher, who joined the Charity 18 months ago has been open in her view that the service is too big and must be overhauled.
Katie Fisher, St Andrew’s Healthcare CEO said:
“We have listened to feedback from all of our stakeholders, including our patients, their carers, and the CQC, and we must change in order to deliver the very highest quality of care.
“The current of model of care we are providing to some of the most vulnerable young people in our country is wrong. Our CAMHS facility is the largest in Europe, which means our permanent staff are overstretched, we have to rely on agency staff and, as a result, we are not always able to provide the high standards of care we expect.
“I’m personally committed to resolving this situation with urgency and purpose, which is why we are implementing a new strategy that will see the service move out of Fitzroy House and a reduction in the number of young people we support.
“We need to be able to provide much more bespoke high quality care for children and adolescents who find themselves in a mental health crisis.”
Returning the Charity to its core purpose
The move is part of St Andrew’s strategy to return the Charity to its core purpose of delivering both high quality specialist inpatient care and increasing the care it provides in the community.
As part of these changes the Charity will aim to reduce its reliance on agency and bank staff rather than reducing the numbers of permanent staff. The organisation is now assessing its estate in Northampton to establish how to make best use of Fitzroy House.
Katie Fisher added:
“We remain in constant dialogue with the CQC and whilst they recognise we have made some improvements, we anticipate their latest inspection findings will highlight that we have not achieved the progress we initially hoped for, particularly relating to the behaviour of a small number of our staff.
“When I came to the organisation 18 months ago, I made a promise: there is zero tolerance at St Andrew’s for staff who do not live by our core values of compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.
“We have already taken disciplinary action against the small number of staff members in our CAMHS service whose treatment of our patients is completely unacceptable. There is no excuses for this behaviour, and for this we are sorry. We know we need to make significant changes, and quickly.”
“However we are a Charity of just over 5,000 staff, the absolute majority of whom are good people, who dedicate their lives to helping the most vulnerable in our society. I want to thank those employees for their continued dedication during what is a turbulent time for the organisation.”
Since joining, Katie has installed a new leadership team, who are developing a new strategy and making improvements across the charity, creating a culture where staff feel comfortable in raising concerns about potential wrongdoing.
Changing the culture
“It’s my personal mission to remove any barriers for people at St Andrew’s in speaking up", say Katie. "I firmly believe that we need a culture of complete openness and transparency to make sure that we are always doing the right thing by our patients and colleagues.
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“But after years of issues, changing the culture of an organisation this size is not something which can happen overnight, particularly in a complex mental health setting. It takes time, but we are making headway.”
St Andrew’s is working closely with patients, carers, staff members and commissioners in order to minimise the disruption to patients during this move, which it hopes to have completed by the Autumn.