HEALTHCARE inspectors have raised concerns about the Devizes place of safety which could soon replace a Swindon-based unit designed to help the most mentally unwell.

Government watchdog the Care Quality Commission visited Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust in June, which runs the Devizes place of safety at Green Lane Hospital.

The trust has been given a "Requires Improvement" rating by the watchdog.

Inspectors found that staff were not “effectively monitoring fridge temperatures, emergency medical and fire equipment at the Devizes place of safety”.

AWP were also told by the CQC to address a damp problem in the Devizes unit’s kitchen.

The findings, from the trust's latest CQC inspection report, come as AWP bosses decide on the fate of the place of safety suite at Stratton’s Sandalwood Court.

The unit is one of four across the county where people experiencing a mental health crisis are taken for assessment by health professionals.

Under plans currently being considered by AWP, three of these place of safety suites could be shut - with the service moved to Green Lane Hospital.

An update on the units’ future will be issued at a meeting of the AWP’s board of directors later this month. 

Today’s CQC inspection found that AWP is improving – but still has “some way to go”.

It follows an inspection last year, when AWP were told it must make improvements in a number of areas. The health-based places of safety were deemed inadequate, while wards for older people were rated by inspectors as requiring improvement.

The CQC returned to AWP in June 2017. In their report, the inspectors said: “Whilst we found on this inspection improvements had been made across all the areas we inspected, not all of the planned improvements had been made.”

They warned that people admitted to the place of safety suites faced “a lengthy wait for assessment, a lengthy wait to return to the trust’s nearest place of safety or a lengthy wait for a transfer to an appropriate hospital bed following assessment”.

The CQC issued the trust with 18 “Requirement Notices”, demanding improvements in areas where AWP are failing to meet their legal obligations.

They included a demand to address problems with personal alarm systems more quickly, better document risks on wards for older people, and ensure that staff working with children and young people had up-to-date criminal background checks in place.

Karen Bennett-Wilson, head of hospital inspection south (mental health), said that staff changes at the top of the trust had seen AWP win a “Good” rating for its leadership.

But she added that the trust “still had some way to go on its improvement journey”.

Ms Bennett-Wilson said: “There were areas we had previously visited where there was still a need for improvement, or where change has been slow to take effect.

“We heard of problems accessing beds for people requiring admission to hospital, and this put pressure on the crisis teams who had to deal with patients requiring a high level of care in the community.

“Despite these pressures, we found staff who were committed and caring while trying to meet the needs of patients in their care.”

A spokesman for AWP said: "Overall we feel that the CQC gave us a positive report that acknowledges the work we have completed in the last 12 months.  The CQC acknowledged that most issues from the 2016 inspection have been addressed and they have lifted the Section 29 Warning Notice relating to Places of Safety.

"We acknowledge there is further work to do and we are grateful to our staff for their continued dedication and compassion in delivering services.

"Some refurbishment of the Place of Safety space at Green Lane has already taken place. Should the decision to locate our PoS services there, the remaining issues noted by the CQC will be addressed at that time."