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Dorset healthcare trust taken to task by watchdog
A DORSET healthcare trust has failed to make urgent improvements in the way it is run, according to sector regulator Monitor.
The watchdog has now got tough with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust.
A new licence condition has been applied, which requires the trust to ensure its board and committees function effectively and tackle the issues of concern raised by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which are causing the trust to be in breach of its licence.
The new condition also requires the trust to make sure its council of governors runs properly.
Monitor said this is a serious situation and it was looking to see urgent improvement. If improvement is not seen then further steps can be taken.
Monitor has said these could include removal or replacement of board members. Dorset HealthCare said it is working hard to deal the issues and had conducted a recruitment drive – taking on 135 whole time equivalent staff.
Monitor first took action in April but has now said it was not satisfied with the trust’s response.
The watchdog announced the new conditions on the day the Waterston Assessment Unit, previously known as the Minterne Ward, reopened after a £1million refurbishment.
The ward at Forston Clinic in Dorchester was forced to close in December after a report by the CQC identified a number of concerns about patient care.
Monitor said the trust had taken too long to make changes and had failed to properly address issues raised by the CQC.
It added the board had failed to ensure appropriate staffing levels.
Paul Streat, regional director at Monitor, said they believed the trust had failed to act quickly enough to address a number of serious problems.
He said: “Patients deserve the best possible care so we’re adding a new condition to the trust’s licence to bring about the urgent improvements that are needed.”
Karl Wallace, south west representative for the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the action by Monitor.
He said that increased staffing levels added up to improved quality of care and welcomed the news of new staff appointments.
He said that in the NHS as a whole what was needed was clear direction from management.
He said: “What Monitor has done is enforce this clear direction.
“It’s something that’s welcome, because whatever improves the quality of care and makes it safer for patients has to be a good thing.”
Paul Sly, chief executive at Dorset HealthCare, said they were working hard to make changes and their aim was to have addressed all the issues raised by March 2014.
He added that an external review by Deloitte had been received and they were already working on the findings.
Mr Sly said: “Change doesn’t happen overnight but there are clear improvements – in particular to our mental health inpatient services at Forston Clinic – since Monitor’s first intervention in April.
“Our aim is to have addressed all the issues raised by the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and Deloitte by March 2014.
“To do this I am chairing a weekly taskforce which is focused on delivering the actions needed to bring about the necessary change.”
He added the trust had invested in a recruitment drive.
He said: “This has resulted in over 135 whole time equivalent staff being appointed and this will significantly reduce vacancy pressures and improve the quality of care we provide.”