A MENTAL health unit in Redditch has been told it must do more to improve safety following an unannounced inspection by a health watchdog.

Hillcrest, adjacent to the town's Alexandra Hospital, has been rated as requires improvement for its safety.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said they found that, on Hillcrest ward, administration and management of medication did not follow safe practices.

Inspectors saw nurses signing all medication charts at the end of the medicine round which they said could increase the risk of errors.

They also saw a nurse preparing six sets of medication in advance by placing them into medicine tots that were then labelled before a second nurse took these to patients or called the patient to collect their own.

This, they said, presented an increased risk of errors and was not best practice.

Hillcrest was inspected alongside two other psychiatric intensive care units, both in Worcester, as part of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust's acute wards and psychiatric intensive care units.

The overall service for all three was rated as good but 'Is the service safe?' was marked as requires improvement.

It comes after an inquest into the death of a mentally ill woman who died while being looked after at Hillcrest identified a number of damning failures of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, which runs the unit.

43-year-old Clare Ineson from Hollywood was an in-patient on Hillcrest Ward, last year.

She was admitted having been considered a suicide risk but despite trying to approach staff to seek reassurances she was left on her own.

The following day she severely harmed herself - with items that had not been removed from her possession - and later died.

Following the inquest hospital bosses said they would be reviewing procedures on the ward.

Commenting on the recent CQC inspection findings, a spokesman from Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “Our overall CQC ratings in safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led were good in our mental health services.

"The CQC noted in relation to the mental health wards, which includes Hillcrest, that there were plenty of staff for patients to have one to one time with their named nurse, patients stated they felt well cared for and that they would recommend the service to others should they need it, and that staff were qualified and experienced to undertake their roles."

They added: “The CQC noted a few areas for further improvement, for example a few specific instances where elements of the process for administering medication were not up to best practice standards.

"This was rectified immediately and we are undertaking regular audits to ensure best practice remains in place at all times.

“We will continue to work closely with our staff, the people who use our services and the CQC to build on our achievements and to improve on the areas where we need to.”

CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals (and lead for mental health), Dr Paul Lelliott, said there were a number of outstanding areas of practice at the trust but

added that there were also areas where the trust needed to make improvements, such reducing errors in the administration of medicines in Hillcrest.