Mental health care trust has ‘made significant progress’, says CQC

A big improvement is the trust’s move away from a “culture of blame”
By Victoria Munro

NELFT runs Goodmayes Hospital in Redbridge and a number of other mental health services for North East London (credit: Google Streetview)
NELFT runs Goodmayes Hospital in Redbridge and a number of other mental health services for North East London (credit: Google Streetview)

The trust in charge of mental health care in Waltham Forest has “made significant progress” since it was last inspected three years ago.

The CQC announced last week that it had raised the overall rating for North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) from “requires improvement” to “good”.

The inspection in June focused on three core services offered by the trust in Waltham Forest: acute adult wards, psychiatric ICUs and mental health crisis services.

The announcement will be welcome news at the trust after a series of concerning headlines last year, including an inquest finding it neglected a 35-year-old Chingford patient and a former student nurse at one of its hospitals accused of raping two patients

The CQC report, published on 26th August, reads: “Staff working for the trust put people who used services at the forefront and were committed to providing the best service possible. There was tremendous enthusiasm, commitment and pride in the work of the trust.

“We found significant improvements in the mental health acute and crisis core service. Many more patients in a mental health crisis received the right care at the right time. 

“Work had also taken place to improve the standards of care and treatment on the acute inpatient mental health wards. There were some areas where there was more work to do, but the trust was fully sighted on this and had plans in place.”

One of the biggest areas of improvement highlighted by the report was the internal “culture” at the trust, particularly how much easier it was for staff to raise concerns.

The report adds: “Throughout our inspection we heard from staff who spoke positively about the changes which had taken place and the move away from a culture of blame. There was a recognition that there was still much more to do but the progress was evident.

“Whilst many of the services delivered by the trust were under extreme pressure, staff from different professions felt able to escalate concerns about patient safety.”

However, the report also noted a number of areas where the trust needs to improve, particularly when it comes to recruitment, which remains an “ongoing challenge”.

Last November, the trust’s medical director warned that the move to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for health and social care staff could leave them with a significant “staff shortage”.

Responding to the news, NELFT’s acting chief executive Jacqui Van Rossum said: “I am proud of the dedication and commitment of all our staff who have been working hard to continuously improve the services we provide. 

“We strive to deliver the best care by the best people and this is a significant step towards our overall ambition to be rated as outstanding.

“It is tremendously important for us to reflect on our achievements and improvements across the trust, but I am conscious that we must also learn from where we can do better. 

“We want to ensure we deliver consistently high-quality care across the communities we serve and we are continuing on our improvement journey.

“I would like to thank every member of staff who has helped us to reach this point, particularly through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I know their passion for delivering the best possible patient care has now been recognised by our regulator.”