Devon Partnership NHS Trust says it has been ‘making headway’ to improve mental health services after CQC inspection last year.

Mental health care at North Devon District Hospital is ‘unsafe’, according to its latest Care Quality Commission inspection.

A team of CQC inspectors and specialist advisors found some wards were unsafe in their design, particularly Moorland and Ocean View at NDDH.

Inspectors also found the hospital’s mental health crisis teams did not offer a ‘comprehensive, round-the-clock’ service.

Staffing levels were the main concern - with not enough staff on hand to assess a new patient promptly and only a night nurse practioner available on the phone as the crisis response after 9.30pm.

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of Hospitals and CQC’s lead for mental health, said: “While we found that staff were caring and respectful of the patients, the quality of clinical care was not consistently high across all services.

“We rated acute wards for adults of working age as requires improvement because, although the trust had identified the risks posed by the ward environment, they had not addressed them. On one ward, patients told us that they felt that staffing levels were too low.”

Four of the nine core services provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust were rated as good: the long stay wards; forensic services; and community mental health services for working age adults and for people with learning disabilities.

Dr Lelliott added: “It is clear that there have been real improvements since the last inspection, although the trust recognise there are still further changes to be made.

“The board has a clear strategy for improvement that has been thought through carefully and we expect them to address the issues we have identified on this inspection.

“We will continue to monitor the trust’s progress.”

The chief execuitve of the NHS Trust, Melanie Walker, said she found the report a ‘balanced and fairly accurate assessment’ of where the organisation was during the inspection six months ago.

She added: “Overall, our organisation’s rating of ‘requires improvement’ is a fair reflection of where we were last year but I feel confident that we are in far better shape now.

“The fact that almost three quarters of our service ratings were ‘good’ is extremely encouraging and our conversations with the CQC indicate that we were very close to being rated as ‘good’ overall.”

The trust said it had been ‘working hard’ and ‘making headway’ over the last six months to improve services.