Dorset HealthCare NHS Trust still 'failing' patients

Inside the Waterston Assessment Unit
Image caption Dorset HealthCare spent more than £1m on refurbishing the Forston Clinic ward

Patients are still being failed by a Dorset NHS Trust, the regulator says.

Dorset HealthCare has taken "too long" to make "urgent improvements" in levels of staffing and quality of care, said Monitor.

The health service regulator has now imposed a new condition on the trust's licence which, if breached, could mean a "replacement of leadership".

Trust chief executive Paul Sly said change "did not happen overnight". He aims to address all issues by March.

'Serious problems'

Monitor was prompted to review the entire trust after inspectors shut a mental health ward at Forston Clinic in Charlton Down in December because patients were not receiving appropriate and safe care.

It reopened in April after a £1.1m revamp.

But Monitor regional director Paul Streat said "serious problems" were found in areas across the trust, including staffing levels and the trust's systems to monitor quality and risk management.

A new licence condition requires the trust, which deals primarily in mental and community health, to ensure its board, council of governors and committees are "run properly".

A Monitor spokesman said: "If the trust does not comply with the new licence condition then the next step is potentially replacing some of the leadership."

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, a trust's licence can be revoked.

Mr Sly said improvements were already being made including a "concerted recruitment drive" that had "resulted in over 135 whole time equivalent staff being appointed".

He added the findings were "a positive catalyst for change" and "an opportunity to return to our long-held position as a high performing trust".

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