Health watchdog warns of risks to vulnerable children at ‘unsuitable’ Leeds facility

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The safety of an inpatient facility for children with mental health issues has been questioned by a health watchdog.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) review of Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCH) has found staff had not identified all potential risks at Little Woodhouse Hall, in Hyde Park, where it was feared children could self harm.

It was also reported that the layout of the building, which has been deemed unsuitable by LCH, was such that it was difficult for staff to observe all areas during the November visit.

Following a four-day inspection, the trust, which has been rated overall as ‘requires improvement’, has also been criticised for a shortage of staff across several community services, a reliance on agency and bank staff at some facilities and lengthy waiting times for young people’s mental health services.

Despite this the CQC found services delivered by LCH to be caring, effective and well led.

Ellen Armistead, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, explained inspectors found several examples of good practice but noted a “variation in the safety and quality of care”.

LCH provides community health services such as community nursing, health visiting, physiotherapy, community dentistry, smoking cessation and primary care mental health.

The trust has been told to take action on the CQC report’s findings, which have been published at cqc.org.uk/provider/RY6, in the coming weeks before a follow-up inspection.

Thea Stein, chief executive of LCH, was “very pleased” the CQC rated its services as good in three areas. She said: “The report highlights how compassionate and caring our staff are.”

She said work is ongoing to recruit more staff, find an alternative to Little Woodhouse Hall and reduce the wait for young people’s mental health services.

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