People needing treatment for mental health issues in are waiting too long for help, according to a new report.
Health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that waiting times for those with certain conditions are “excessive”, with patients denied access to care for more than 18 weeks in some cases.
The South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been told to address the issue, and they’ve been given a ‘requires improvement’ grade by the CQC.
The findings follow a visit in March this year by inspectors to the trust, which delivers mental health treatment in Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale and Barnsley. It also offers support to those with serious learning disabilities.
Although waiting times are a long-standing issue which has affected other NHS bodies across the country, the trust has been downgraded from its previous ‘good’ rating.
The report said: “There were still long waiting times for people accessing specific individual therapies which was an issue we found at our previous inspection.
“Staff did not routinely monitor people waiting for therapies where they had long waits. There were differences in how and when people were able to access services through the single point of access teams within the different localities.”
The trust was also criticised for gaps in staffing rotas, which it was said had a “negative impact on morale” and the recording of incidents.
However there was praise for a number of elements within the service, including the efforts and attitude of its employees.
The report added: “Managers supported a culture of candour, staff reported incidents, and demonstrated a culture of openness and honesty when things went wrong.
“Managers shared learning from incidents and staff made changes that improved patient safety.
“We observed staff to be kind, caring and compassionate during their interactions with patients. Patients and carers spoke positively about the staff and reported staff were caring and listened to them.”
The trust’s director of nursing and quality, Tim Breedon, welcomed the report and said its recommendations would be taken on board.
He said: “The CQC have provided a fair representation of the areas where we’re facing significant challenges. Our services are under pressure, in particular our acute and community mental health services and our child and adolescent mental health services.
“We remain grateful for the continuing effort and hard work of all our staff right across the organisation.
“We put safety first, always, and so our first priority is to address the safety issues highlighted. We are disappointed that our overall rating has gone down and we’re responding in line with our values, being open, honest and transparent and aiming to improve and be outstanding.
“We’re working collaboratively with partners on our action plan so we can use the CQC’s feedback to further improve.”