A TRUST which provides health services for people with mental health issues and learning disability has been rated “good”.

The Care and Quality Commission has judged Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust as “good”, the second highest rate.

The news comes as last year watchdogs said the trust required improvements.

In their latest report inspectors said action to improve the service has been taken and highlighted what will have to improve further.

Southern Health runs acute wards and psychiatric intensive care units in Hampshire including Antelope House in Southampton,  and Melbury Lodge in Winchester.

Watchdogs said the trust is well-led, safe, caring and responsive, all elements which were rated as good. But they said  the effectiveness of the services requires improvement.

In their latest report inspectors said: “We found that the trust had a highly skilled,strong,stable and experienced senior team. The leadership team had taken significant steps to improve the culture across the trust and this was paying dividends. Staff across the trust felt valued but there was a real focus on doing what was best for people.The leadership team had engaged proactively with a number of families who had previously not received the appropriate level of care. All in the trust had worked hard to address most of the concerns we raised in the last inspection.”

Watchdogs said improvements must be made  in wards for older people with mental health problems by ensuring that all patients have access to  a clinical psychologist and psychological therapies, that female lounges are not used by male patients and that there is a patient alarm system on all older person’s wards.

Inspectors also said the trust must  ensure “consistency in the disposal of clinical waste in line with their policy”.

Dr Kevin Cleary, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “At Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust our inspectors found a really strong patient-centred culture. Inspectors saw many areas of good practice. The trust did face some challenges and there are still some areas of improvement required but there has been a significant improvement in the services at this trust. Staff, patients and the leadership team should be proud of the work done so far. ”

Trust chief executive Dr Nick Broughton said: “I am very encouraged by the report published today. It reflects the significant strides we have made to improve the quality and safety of all services. It also highlights how hard we have worked to ensure we better involve families and carers in the care of our patients and service users.”

For services in Southampton this means that mental health services at Antelope house and wards for older people with mental health problems based at the Western Community Hospital are rated good.