Tolworth Hospital is failing in a key care target, inspectors from regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have found.

Action is needed in relation to consent to care and treatment, they said, after inspecting the Lilacs, Azaleas, and Fuschias wards in November.

Staff needed to make sure they acted according to the law in situations where patients lacked the capacity to consent, the report said.

The hospital passed in three other areas: staffing, patients’ welfare, and safety.

But assessments in Azaleas and Fuschias wards “indicated a lack of understanding and application of the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.”

Inspectors said: “We did not see evidence of any application of the Mental Capacity Act in use or as a methodology for recognising restrictions placed on individuals and considering if the threshold was being approached for assessment under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.”

In one case, where progress reports for a Fuschias patient were reviewed in two consecutive weeks, inspectors said that “identical generic statements stating the person lacked capacity to consent or make informed decisions about their care treatment.”

They added: “No additional evidence was recorded in relation to the decision specific functional test required.”

South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, which runs the hospital, must submit a report to the CQC today to explain how they are now meeting standards.

The regulator judged the failure to meet the target to have had a “moderate impact” on patients.

However, most people commented positively to inspectors on the care they received, the report said.

Their comments included:

  • "The staff are really friendly, they come and say hello to you."
  • "We do trust the staff here and appreciate their consideration and kindness."
  • "They do their best here, they treat me nicely."

Workers on Azaleas ward spoke of the difficulty in caring for a mix of older patients with dementia and mental health conditions – a “consistent theme” in previous inspections.

And families of patients on Fuschias ward expressed concern about not knowing what would happen to the service there.

Five long-term patients are being cared for on the ward, the future of which is under review by GPs.

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