A HOSPICE for children and young adults has been told to improve after being rated as “requiring improvement” by a watchdog.

Butterwick Hospice, in Stockton, saw its rating fall from “good” after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year.

The probe into found "significant safety concerns" in areas such as disclosure and barring checks for staff and registered nurse’s verification checks.

The damming report comes after a turbulent year for the Teesside charity after ex-boss Graham Leggatt-Chidgey was jailed for four years, after spending £91,000 on luxury hotels and jewellery on Butterwick Hospice's credit card and was ordered to pay back £141,000 he used to fund a lavish lifestyle.

The CQC said that staff "did not have the right levels of safeguarding training" to meet the recommended guidance, and stated that incidents were not always being reported, nor were investigations being carried out, which could help eliminate the risk of the same incident repeating.

They added that patients’ care and treatment did not always reflect current evidence-based guidance, standards and practice and that best interest decisions were not made for those patients lacking capacity.

Staff were reported to not be supported with the correct training, and that the service "did not always make sure that staff were competent

for their roles".

Staff files were also not up to date and volunteer files had no record of DBS checks or training.

The report concluded that recording of controlled drugs was not accurate, and that staff did not complete and update risk assessments for each patient, and that risk assessments "did not consider patients who were deteriorating and in the last days or hours of their life."

Overall Butterwick was rated inadequate in the key areas of safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership. It did however remain with a "good" rating in relation to caring.

The inspection observed that staff treat patients and their families with "compassion and kindness", took into account their individual needs and provided emotional support.

At the previous inspection in February and March 2016, all five key areas were rated as "good" and the CQC said the service "met all standards of quality and safety".

Debbie Jones, chief executive of Butterwick Hospice Care said that she was disappointed with the findings of the commission, but was encouraged that the inspectors recognised the good level of care offered to patients and their families and vowed to work with the watchdog moving forward.

"Over the past few years, Butterwick Hospice Care has faced a number of difficult issues, relating to staff and income," she said.

"These challenges coincided with a change in the CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection criteria. That has meant that the hospice is now measured against hospital standards.

"Although the organisation worked hard to meet the higher standards, we were not at the level we needed to reach when an inspection was carried out in November.

"Butterwick Hospice Care has learned a huge amount through the inspection process and fully recognises the need to improve its systems and the documentation of processes and procedures.

"Since the inspection, we have made significant progress, our local NHS Foundation Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group have supported us to develop an Action Plan to progress required areas of improvement outlined within the report. This plan has been shared with the CQC.

Since the Autumn inspection, the CQC have undertaken a follow up visit to the Children’s Unit and a formal inspection of our third hospice at Bishop Auckland and acknowledged that a significant amount of work has been undertaken by the Butterwick team. This work continues to progress and support from the CCG and North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust is ongoing.

"Butterwick Hospice Care is not cash rich and every penny raised is spent on delivering services. The organisation remains heavily dependent upon support from people within our local community to be able to continue to deliver that essential care.

"The last few years have proved very challenging, but we are extremely grateful for the invaluable ongoing support of individuals, local groups and the business community.

"We are confident that with continued support we will continue to see improvement in line with the expectations of the CQC.”