The safety of children and young people’s services was rated “inadequate” in one area following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) visit to Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust.
According to the report, the CQC identified several key issues, including chronic under-staffing and long waits for treatment. Inspectors found health visitors were juggling caseloads of up to 500 children, and that a team overseeing looked-after children had about 600 young people per practitioner. The national guideline is for a limit of 100 cases per practitioner.
It was also feared some mothers requiring antenatal visits were slipping through the net because referrals that were turned down due to a lack of capacity did not appear to be recorded. The responsiveness of the service was also criticised due to too many waiting time breaches.
In the six months to March 2018, only 36% of patients were referred to the children’s development centre within the required 18-week timeframe, with the national target being 92%. Similarly, the benchmark was missed in occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy during the same period.
The overall rating of the trust, which provides services for adults, children, people with learning difficulties and rehabilitation needs as well as dental services, fell from its last inspection rating of “good” in 2014 to “requires improvement”.
In addition to the category of safety, the leadership of children’s community health services was also rated “inadequate”. A “requires improvement” rating in the areas of effectiveness and responsiveness meant the trust’s children’s services were found “inadequate” overall.
Welcoming the findings for inpatient services, Richard Kirby, the trust’s chief executive, said: “We know that our children’s teams are doing a difficult job in challenging circumstances and we have already begun to make the necessary improvements to ensure we provide better support to our staff and better care to our patients.”
He said the trust recognised it had “room to improve in children’s services and areas including risk management and other systems and the freedom for staff to speak up”.
Pryers Solicitors cares deeply about patient safety and has extensive experience acting on behalf of children, and young people. If you, or someone you know, has concerns about how a child’s care has been handled, speak to one of our friendly advisors on 01904 556600, or get in touch today.