A TRUST responsible for several mental health services and community hospitals in Oxfordshire has been praised by a national watchdog for improvements despite a ‘significant funding shortfall’.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which visited Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust between July and September, however, raised issues with the isolation of patients with learning disabilities at one of its Oxford facilities as well as wait times for young people's mental health referrals.

ALSO READ: PC Andrew Harper murder - Four appear at the Old Bailey

A report, published yesterday, gave the trust, which also runs services in neighbouring counties, an overall rating of 'good' but for safety 'requires improvement' – the same as when it was last inspected by the CQC in March 2018.

It did state that since the last inspection the trust had made the 'majority' of improvements asked of it despite facing a ‘significant funding shortfall’ in mental health.

Concerns were raised though about Evenlode, an inpatient service for men with learning disabilities in Littlemore.

The report said: "Staff on Evenlode were not secluding patients for the shortest possible amount of time."

Witney Gazette:

Stuart Bell, chief executive of Oxford Health

It added patients had not had access to a speech and language therapist for18 months.

The report also said in specialist community mental health services for children and young people the 'increase in demand and capacity issues' had created increased wait times for non-urgent referrals.

Oxford Health had been told by the CQC to improve staffing levels following the 2018 inspection, with the new report saying caseloads were now 'manageable'.

READ AGAIN - Watchdog raises concerns over staffing levels at health trust

It praised the trust, saying there was a £12m shortfall in mental health funding at Oxford Health as well as a £10m shortfall in funding for community services, adding this required an ‘additional level of dedication and capability’ from trust leaders and staff to ‘maintain the capacity and quality of the services whilst managing scarce resources’.

Trust chief executive Stuart Bell CBE, said there were some 'very positive messages' in the report, adding: "I’m particularly pleased that the report found that our trust has a strong patient focus, a learning culture and that our staff are caring, compassionate and proud to work here.”

He thanked staff for ‘upholding of all that is best in the NHS’.