A HEALTH authority has been criticised for the third time in four months over staff and safety issues at a home for the disabled.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) watchdog is taking enforcement action over Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Piggy Lane care home in Bicester, following a January inspection.

Staff at the care home were “constantly stretched” and warned of a “long-standing problem with a lack of care staff” which senior leaders knew about, says the CQC report.

It comes a week after the trust’s apology over a teenager’s death.

An independent report concluded 15-minute checks on Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, at Slade House, Headington, Oxford, were unsafe.

The Headington teen died from drowning probably caused by an epileptic seizure, the NHS has said.

And the facility – for people with serious learning disabilities – closed admissions in September ahead of a damning CQC report in November.

Piggy Lane consists of two bungalows for five people with physical and learning disabilities.

The CQC said: “There were not enough skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs and safeguard their safety and welfare.”

“They had far too much to do and this sometimes compromised the safety of the care they could deliver.”

One member of staff reported an OAP left the building unnoticed while staff looked after another resident and another said as few as two members of staff could be on duty at certain times.

Staff worked 14-hour shifts without breaks. A manager confirmed this, saying they were paid for 14 and did not “work all of that time”.

The report added: “During our inspection, the managers spent the majority of the day in their office on the unit and appeared to be unengaged with staff and people there.”

Staff felt “badly managed” by the on-site managers and “let down” by the trust, it said.

It reported “insufficient processes” to protect safety and an “organisational failure of effective communication and engagement”.

The report recommends action for the following standards: care and welfare of users; safeguarding from abuse; staffing; records and enforcement action over assessing and monitoring quality. Medicine management standards were met.

The trust must respond to the CQC – which praised “warm” carers – by Tuesday to set out actions to meet the required standards.

Sir Tony Baldry, Bicester MP, said: “This is a matter of real concern.

“I shall ask Southern Healthcare Trust if I can visit 4 Piggy Lane to have a better understanding of what they are doing to address the concerns of the CQC.”

Trust director of social care Phil Aubrey-Harris said: “We deeply regret that the quality of our social care service was not of the high standard our service users and their families should expect.”

He said: “We have reviewed the levels of quality and immediately put in place an action plan to address all of the issues raised.”


Three reports have found the trust lacking since November.
A report into the July 2013 death of Connor Sparrowhawk found staff at Headington’s Slade House failed to risk assess his case appropriately.
This led to a “poor decisions around his care”, particularly observations every 15 minutes when bathing.
It also cited “weak” team working, and a lack of “effective clinical leadership” and said there was no evidence his parents’ “experience and knowledge” was considered.
The unit shut in September after a CQC inspection that month, which raised concerns over nursing practice, faulty equipment and medicine not being safely administered. Staff said they had unmanageable workloads.
The Trust also runs the Evenlode medium secure unit in Littlemore.