Agenda item

Rowanwood Ward, Carleton Clinic, Carlisle - Temporary Closure Update

To consider a report by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (copy enclosed).



The Committee considered a report from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) regarding the temporary closure of Rowanwood Ward Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, Carleton Clinic, Carlisle which commissioned 10 beds for adult men and women providing assessment and treatment by a multi?disciplinary team.


Members were informed of the longstanding issues regarding recruitment and retention of resources, highlighting that it was now reliant on agency registered staff to operate.  Officers explained that the balance between quality and risk had recently changed and it was expected that the staffing issue would deteriorate. 


The Committee noted that a decision to reduce bed capacity to six was made in July 2021 to mitigate the risks and alleviate some of the pressures with a number of options reviewed to sustain the six beds.  It was explained the reliability of those options were not deemed sufficient, potentially resulting in only three employed registered nurses working on the ward by early September 2021.


Members were informed it was, therefore, escalated for decision by the Trust Board to reach agreement to temporarily close Rowanwood and absorb the subsequent bed impact across the Trust due to the inability to assure safe staffing levels.  Officers explained that given the scale of challenge with registered nurse vacancies on Rowanwood Ward and across North Cumbria inpatient wards more generally, it was proposed that the timescale for the ward reopening would depend upon the progress in recruiting into the qualified nursing vacancies, which was likely to take several months.


The Committee raised concerns that Rowanwood would not re?open and suggested that a Task and Finish Group be established to look at staffing and patient management at Carleton Clinic.  Officers confirmed this was a temporary closure because of safety concerns due to lack of resources.


A discussion took place regarding the relocation of patients since closure and members raised their concerns that vulnerable patients had to go to the North East.


In conclusion, members were informed that CNTW was committed to maintaining inpatient mental health facilities in North Cumbria and had recently completed remedial works to alleviate dormitory accommodation in Oakwood Ward on the Carleton Clinic site. 


Members were informed that work was about to commence on a £1.8m refurbishment of the Hadrian Unit on the Carleton Clinic site which would include the creation of seclusion and de-escalation facilities as well as the provision of en?suite facilities throughout the ward.


The Committee noted that CNTW had recently expressed an interest for a new hospital build to replace current inpatient facilities in Carlisle as part of the UK Government’s new hospitals plan for England, however, this expression of interest was unsuccessful.


Members were informed that in line with the national priority to recruit and retain NHS staff, CNTW had also established a Recruitment and Retention task force which was overseeing and guiding recruitment and retentions strategies for the entire footprint of services across CNTW.  It was highlighted that there was a particular focus in the work of the Task Force to look at inpatient staffing as it was recognised that this environment was particularly hard to recruit and retain staff.


Members were informed that locally discussions had already started to take place about establishing a new team for Rowanwood Ward going forward and the Trust felt confident they would be able to recruit enough staff.  It was explained that a major focus was to recruit sufficiently skilled and experienced registered nurses which would be supported by the development of a detailed induction and staff training strategy for Rowanwood going forward.


RESOLVED,   that


                          (1)          the report be noted;


                          (2)          an update on the improvements made to pathways of care since the transfer of Mental Health Services to Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust be made to a future meeting of the Committee.


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